The SBI Feedback Model


Knowing how to create and deliver effective feedback is a key leadership skill, and a necessary skill in coaching others  to support them in giving feedback. Effective feedback motivates the receiver to begin, continue or stop behaviours that affect performance. In addition to accomplishing its direct purpose, an effective feedback message is a self-development tool for the receiver (as long as they have ears to hear it!), and it often has benefits for other members of the team.

Not knowing how to give feedback can result in messages that are hurtful, confusing, and counter-productive. Many feedback messages leave the receiver unsure of what to do with the information. “You are good as a leader” or “you could be more strategic” gives the receiver an idea of how he or she is seen by the sender, but such a message doesn’t tell the receiver what behavior to repeat if he wants to continue being a good leader or what to do or what action to avoid in order to be more strategic.

The situation, behaviour and impact (SBI) Model

The SBI (situation, behaviour and impact) Feedback Model is a tool used by the Centre of Creative Leadership created by  Sloan Weitzel that helps depersonalise the feedback provided and leaves the person time to respond (click on the image to enlarge)

• Effective feedback is based on observed behavior and tells the receiver the impact of a specific behavior on you.

• Ineffective feedback often is vague, indirect, and exaggerated with generalities. Ineffective feedback often judges the person rather than his or her actions.

It helps to stay silent and let the person respond. What you want to avoid is providing them with an answer. By staying silent, it allows them to take in what you’re saying and respond calmly instead of putting up their defenses.
Take some time to think about the given situation and how you plan to address it. Remember the three C’s when addressing the individual – cool, calm and collected.

A working example

Here is an example of how to use the three-step model:

Step 1: Capture the Situation
(“Yesterday morning in the staff meeting,…”)

Step 2: Describe the Behaviour
(“you had a number of side conversations and at times were joking during my presentation.”)

Step 3: Deliver the Impact
(“When you were talking to others while I was speaking, it was very disruptive to what I was trying to accomplish. I felt frustrated and annoyed by it.”)


The recipient of well-intended and well-delivered feedback receives a two-fold gift. First, there is the almost immediate benefit of hearing what others think. Second, there is the afterlife of feedback. We often replay in our mind what we’ve heard, review written feedback privately at a later date, and check out perceptions with family and others we trust. Often we’ll make some changes immediately and then make more significant changes with deeper reflection and consideration.

The caveat to all this is the capacity and willingness of the recipient. Yes, this is a lot to do with how well and skilfully the message is delivered, but also on the openness and the emotional intelligence of the recipient to hear the message.

See also the articles on Emotional Intelligence and effective listening skills