How the SBI Feedback Model & Talent Conversations Strengthen Organizations
What can you do to improve talent development?
Teach your leaders how to give feedback regularly and well (we recommend our Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) Feedback Model), and help them to hold effective talent conversations with employees.
This is the fastest way to improve talent development, because individual leaders are in the best position to influence and develop talent — or shut it down. Managers can give employees good reasons to be engaged, work effectively, and build their skills.
Most importantly, a talent conversation isn’t done to someone, but with someone. It’s about building a relationship that allows managers to influence employees toward improved performance, development, and positive outcomes.
It’s one of the simplest yet most effective ways to develop others. And, if the employee has been given honest, ongoing feedback, these conversations don’t come as surprises.
Some of the most valuable types of feedback are given in the moment and on routine, day-to-day behaviors. When feedback is given consistently and well, managers establish and strengthen trust. The more trust and rapport managers can build, the more readily subordinates will accept and act on future feedback, creating a pattern of learning and growth.
Watch our webinar, How Leaders and Leadership Collectives Can Increase Psychological Safety at Work, and learn how to promote psychological safety to foster trust, creativity, collaboration, and innovation across the organization.
How to Give Constructive Feedback Using the SBI Feedback Model
Make sure your managers know that giving feedback regularly is more effective than saving it all for the performance review. It can:
- Motivate employees to continue a behavior that increases their effectiveness.
- Stop a behavior that reduces their impact.
- Encourage employees to adopt or modify a behavior that will make them more effective.
- Foster their commitment to their work and the organization.
We recommend giving feedback using our SBI Feedback Model to capture and clarify the Situation, describe the specific Behaviors, and explain the Impact that the person’s behavior had on you. The SBI Feedback Model can be used to give both positive and negative feedback. It’s a process that may feel awkward or formal at first, but once managers get some practice, they tell us they find it’s incredibly helpful.
1. Situation. Describe the specific situation in which the behavior occurred.
2. Behavior. Describe the actual, observable behavior being discussed. Keep to the facts. Don’t insert opinions or judgments.
3. Impact. Describe the results of the behavior. If the effect was positive, words like “happy” or “proud” help underscore the success of the behavior.
The experience be enhanced when the feedback, which is one-way, is accompanied by an inquiry about intent, which makes the conversation two-way. Many difficulties can be avoided by having a clarifying discussion with the other person. Learn more about using Situation-Behavior-Impact to explore intent.
How to Have Effective Talent Conversations
Talent conversations allow managers to influence others toward improved performance, development, and positive outcomes. Talent conversations can happen at any time, but one of the most critical moments for getting them right is during your organization’s regular performance review process.
Managers need to be prepared to have 4 types of talent conversations, based on how an employee is doing. The first step is to clarify whether the employee is considered top talent, a solid performer, a potential performer, or an underperformer. The conversation will have a different focus, depending on how the employee is seen:
- The Top Talent Conversation: Future Investment. Individuals who clearly meet or exceed expectations and deliver superior results are top talent. These are the individuals who are seen as the future leaders in the organization.
- The Solid Performer Conversation: Maintaining or Building Value. Solid performers are typically individual contributors who are valued by the organization but could take on more responsibility.
- The Potential Performer Conversation: Short-Term Success. Potential performers are individuals who may not have had enough time in their role to show significant results but are expected to bring a lot to the role they are in.
- The Underperformer Conversation: Improving Performance. Underperformers are not meeting expectations. The talent conversation should remain focused on the here and now rather than future options, new tasks, or additional responsibilities.
Structuring Talent Conversations
Whatever other formal talent management or leadership development systems are in place, talent conversations are where development becomes real. It’s the best time for managers to build their direct report’s commitment to the organization and engagement in the work.
So the conversation itself should have a structure, too. Things will go more smoothly if you follow these 6 steps:
- Clarify the goal. What’s the purpose of the conversation? What exactly does each person want to accomplish?
- Explore the issues. Assess strengths, vulnerabilities, development needs, and performance. Identify motivation and career aspirations.
- Identify the options. Generate ideas and opportunities for learning and improvement.
- Set expectations. What do we want to do first? Next? What are the obstacles?
- Motivate. What support is needed? Are you sure the goals are meaningful? How can I help and what else is needed?
- Identify the plan. How will we know you are on target? How will we track outcomes?
Demands placed on managers to meet performance goals can be relentless, and priorities and challenges shift frequently.
That’s why the key to improving your talent development processes is ensuring that managers can hold meaningful talent conversations and know how to give routine feedback well (and again, the SBI Feedback Model is a great tool for that).
Ready to Take the Next Step?
How well your managers deliver feedback, and the quality of talent conversations within your organization, will both directly affect your ability to thrive in our changing world. Learn how our Talent Conversations Workshop Kit can help your organization engage employees and hold better conversations.