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The Best Resources for Giving Effective Feedback

It’s hard to give effective feedback. For anyone who has worked in a team or managed a team, giving effective feedback to peers and managers can arguably be one of the toughest parts of the job.
There’s quite a lot that goes into giving feedback, there’s the relationship you have with the recipient, the content you deliver, the way you deliver that content, and how you follow up.
At Candor, our belief is that feedback should be honest, direct, and actionable.

As Brené Brown says:
Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind

General Tips for Giving Effective Feedback

- Prepare in advance
- Check your motivations for providing the feedback in the first place - what is your goal?
- Keep the focus on facilitating improvement, not calling out individual failings or mistakes
- Provide lots of context and be as specific and factual as possible
- Avoid getting personal or overly subjective
- Try to give feedback in person (this applies more in the context of time-sensitive behavioral or situational feedback than one-off marker-in-time style feedback that might be given in a 360-degree review or, a job reference, or in a Candor Take)
- Prioritize - people can generally only receive and take action on feedback in small doses
- Offer suggestions for improvement
- Follow-up

Popular Frameworks for Giving Effective Feedback

If you don’t know where to start, modeling your approach off of a tried-and-true feedback framework is always a good choice. You’ll notice that many of these frameworks are stylistically similar, so choosing one feedback model over another can come down to personal choice and whatever you are most comfortable delivering, or that the feedback recipient is most open to engaging with.

EEC Feedback Model

The EEC model of giving feedback is a simple way to think about how you structure the contents of your message. EEC stands for Example, Effect, and Change.

  1. Example: a specific example of the behavior or actions (one important note - focus on the behavior, not one’s personality or character)
  2. Effect: the effect that the behavior resulted in (keep this as non-emotional as possible)
  3. Change: how you’d like the behavior to change in the future (this should lead to an opportunity for dialogue, don’t focus on imposing your ideas)

Here are some great resources for learning more about the EEC model of giving feedback:

CORE Model

The CORE model is very similar to the EEC feedback model, in that it’s a way to think about structuring your feedback delivery. CORE stands for Context, Observation, Result, nExt stEps (admittedly, this is a little wonky for an acronym, but it works!).

  • Context - provides an example of the situation
  • Observation - describe what was said or done in the situation
  • Result - choose and explain the most meaningful consequence of what was said or done
  • nExt stEps - explain the expected next steps for the person receiving the feedback

Here are a few places to learn more about the CORE model of giving feedback:

SBI Framework

SBI is another popular feedback framework that offers a simple structure for delivery (notice a pattern here?). SBI stands for Situation, Behavior, and Impact, and this approach is often appropriate for impactful personal development and difficult conversations as its intent is to both reduce the anxiety of delivering feedback and the defensiveness of the recipient.

  • Situation: outline the situation you’re referring to in clear and specific detail
  • Behavior: identify the observable behavior, but do not assume you know what the other person was thinking
  • Impact: describe the impact of the behavior (how you thought or felt or other observable results)

Great places to learn more about the SBI framework:

FeedForward Model

The FeedForward framework is a little different from the others on this list (for starters, it’s not an acronym!). FeedFoward focuses on future behavior instead of past behavior (hence Feedforward vs Feedback), which makes the feedback easier for some people to process and respond to.
With FeedForward, you:

  • Reinforce what’s working: look to provide positive reinforcement for behaviors that are working well so you can increase the rate at which they happen in the future
  • Coach, don’t criticize: focus on seeing mistakes or failures as opportunities for teachable moments to create better future performance in the individual
  • Provide ideas for “next time”: this is exactly what it sounds like, instead of dwelling on the behavior that already took place, provides suggestions for improvements that could be made in the future

Here are some good resources on the FeedForward approach:

Bonus Resources on Giving Effective Feedback

While not tied to one specific framework, these are some other resources we like for giving more effective feedback.