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Immediately Improve Talent Development With Our SBI Feedback Model

Immediately Improve Your Talent Development with the SBI Feedback Model - CCL

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.

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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, especially if the behavior is turning them into a problem employee;
  • Encourage employees to adopt or modify a behavior that will make them more effective; and
  • 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. 

Our 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.

Infographic: Use Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) to Explore Intent vs. Impact

The SBI Feedback Model in 3 Simple Steps

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 is 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, and are part of what it takes to coach your people on an ongoing basisBut one of the most critical moments for holding effective talent conversations is during your organization’s regular performance review process.

First, Understand The 4 Types of Talent Conversations

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 the Talent Conversation

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:

  1. Clarify the goal. What’s the purpose of the conversation? What exactly does each person want to accomplish?
  2. Explore the issues. Assess strengths, vulnerabilities, development needs, and performance. Identify motivation and career aspirations.
  3. Identify the options. Generate ideas and opportunities for learning and improvement.
  4. Set expectations. What do we want to do first? Next? What are the obstacles?
  5. Motivate. What support is needed? Are you sure the goals are meaningful? How can I help and what else is needed?
  6. 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?

Upskill your team’s capacity for giving feedback using the SBI feedback model so they can  holding quality talent conversations with a customized learning journey for your leaders using our research-backed modules. Available leadership topics include Conflict Management, Emotional Intelligence, Feedback That Works, Listening to Understand, Psychological Safety, and Talent Conversations.


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November 24, 2020
Leading Effectively Staff
About the Author(s)
Leading Effectively Staff
This article was written by our Leading Effectively staff to help you and your organization's leaders at every level. Want more content like this? Subscribe to our emails to get the latest research-backed articles, webinars, insights, and news about leadership development solutions sent straight to your inbox.

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