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Gallup recently reported that 65 percent of employees want more feedback. So why aren't we giving it to them?

As leaders, we have a responsibility to the individuals who work for us to provide timely, objective feedback that can help them grow and develop, and we have a responsibility to all team members affected by the behavior that requires coaching. If you think that your employees cannot see their team members developmental areas, you're wrong. In fact, by not providing feedback and accepting certain behaviors, you are impacting your entire team and bringing your ‘A’ players down. If ‘B’ or even ‘C’ type behaviors and performance are acceptable, why should star performers work harder?

Zenger & Folkman found that 92 percent of respondents agreed with the assertion, "Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance."

For many, giving feedback is uncomfortable. It is perceived as a difficult conversation and our nature is to avoid that which is uncomfortable. Yes, giving feedback can create tension, but it also creates trust. In a study of 22,719 leaders, Zenger & Folkman found that leaders who ranked in the top "10% for giving honest feedback had [teams] who ranked at the 77th percentile in engagement."

Reframing Difficult Conversations into Courageous Conversations

At INBOUND 2019, I had the pleasure of seeing Lauren Miller speak and talk about how to reframe our perspective on giving feedback.

  • Instead of criticism, consider it developmental feedback.
  • Instead of a difficult conversation, consider this a courageous conversation.

Lauren said, "the fear of giving the feedback will not go away, but you have to do it afraid, do it despite the discomfort."  Lauren's model* for giving feedback can be summed up in 4 letters ‘SBII’—below, I unpack her tips and then share more about her model.

  • Be specific and provide one piece of feedback at a time—it is not "you always do X".
  • Be timely. No more than 24 hours should pass between the situation and the feedback.
  • Focus on behaviors, not personality traits.
  • Check your intent—do you want this person to succeed? Or are you done and you want this person to leave? (that's a whole other conversation)
  • Be future oriented... "next time, let’s try X."
  • Practice out loud.
  • Have empathy. "We don’t know, what we don’t know," said Lauren. Someone may have had a bad morning before the situation that needs feedback.

The ‘SBII’ Model

Lauren's model, ‘SBII’, gives a framework to provide feedback in a non-threatening, constructive way. Here's a little more detail about how this works.

  • Situation – The feedback you provide needs to be tied to a specific situation. Not the past six months, not "every time we meet you." It is the specific situation where/when the behavior occurred. "Yesterday in the team brainstorming meeting…"
  • Behavior – "I noticed that when people shared ideas you…."
  • Impact – State the direct impact of the behavior. You goal is to help your employee understand the consequence(s) of what happened. "Your statement brought the brainstorming to a halt…"
  • Inquiry – Ask open-ended questions so the person can help come up with other ways to approach that situation in the future. Really listen to the answers provided. Examples of questions include:
    • What's your perspective?
    • What did you notice?
    • Why do you think that happened?
    • What ideas do you have to make this better for everyone?
    • What can we do so this doesn't happen again?

So next time you are faced with having to give feedback, reframe your thoughts and employ this model to invest in your team's success!

*‘SBII’ is indeed Lauren Miller’s framework, but it is important to note that it has been adapted from the Center for Creative Leadership.


Lauren Miller HeadshotAbout Lauren C. Miller

With broad experience in Organizational Effectiveness, Leadership Development, and Experience/Service Design, Lauren is a consultant-coach with a diverse clientele: different industries, team makeups, tenures, and global locations. Despite (or perhaps, because of) this diversity, Lauren is most intrigued by the similarities of our human experience in the workplace.

Currently, Lauren is a Leadership Coach and Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business and Integrated Innovation Institute. Outside of that work, Lauren is an Executive Coach to leaders at all levels and industries: from first-time managers all the way to seasoned executives. She also consults, writes, and speaks about leadership and team development.

She is passionate about the people side of change in complex organizations. Common threads in her work use inquirysystems-thinking, and strengths-based approaches. Find out more about Lauren and how she can help your organization at or at @lauren_colette on Twitter.

About the Author

Susan LaPlante-Dube | PMG Principal
Susan LaPlante-Dube, PMG Principal

Susan LaPlante-Dube created PMG in 2002 and acts as one of PMG’s Principals. As a jack-of-all-trades in marketing, she loves digging deep on a topic and finding new ways to spin old ideas. While she would prefer having some high-tech voice software to record all of her blog thoughts instead of having to write them down, she loves the satisfaction of helping her readers learn something new.

 Tags: Leadership & Management

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