The SBI Feedback Model: Clarity in communication for effective leadership

Explore the SBI Feedback Model for leaders—providing precise, actionable feedback with real-world conversation examples for effective team communication.

In the realm of constructive criticism and leadership, the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) Feedback Model has emerged as a potent tool for providing clear, focused, and actionable feedback. Unlike the Sandwich Method, the SBI model takes a more straightforward approach, aiming to improve understanding and performance without the fluff. This blog post delves into the workings of the SBI model, its advantages, when to use it, and offers real-life conversation examples to illustrate its effectiveness.

Understanding the SBI Feedback Model

Situation: Begin by setting the context. Describe the specific situation where the observed behavior occurred. This helps the recipient recall the event and grounds the conversation in reality.

Behavior: Specify the behavior without making assumptions or judgments. Describe only what was observed, not the interpretation of why it happened.

Impact: Explain the impact of the behavior on the team, the project, or the individual. Focus on tangible outcomes and feelings to help the recipient understand the consequences of their actions.

Pros of the SBI Model

Clarity: It offers a clear, straightforward framework for feedback that is easy to understand and act upon.

Focus on behavior: The model emphasizes behaviors over traits, which can be changed and improved.

Immediate applicability: Feedback is tied to specific situations, making it more relevant and actionable.

Cons of the SBI Model

May overlook positives: Unlike the Sandwich Method, SBI doesn’t inherently include positive feedback, which can sometimes be demotivating.

Emotional impact: The direct approach may be too blunt for sensitive individuals, potentially leading to defensiveness.

Requires practice: To be effective, the giver must be adept at observing and articulating behaviors and impacts without bias.

When to Use the SBI Model

Performance reviews: It’s ideal for formal assessments where clear examples of behavior and results are discussed.

Conflict resolution: The model can be particularly effective when addressing behaviors that are causing conflict.

When Not to Use the SBI Model

Positive reinforcement: If the goal is to simply encourage more of a certain positive behavior, the SBI model might be too formal.

Highly emotional situations: In cases where emotions are running high, a more empathetic approach may be necessary.

Example SBI feedback conversations

Example 1: Effective SBI Model Application

Leader: “During yesterday’s team meeting, when you interrupted Sandra multiple times, it seemed to prevent her from sharing her ideas fully, which impacted the team’s opportunity to consider all options.”

Colleague: “I didn’t realize I was interrupting. I’ll make sure to be more mindful and give others space to speak.”

Post-Dialogue Notes: The leader clearly identified the situation and behavior, and by explaining the impact, they provided a reason for change without making the colleague feel attacked.

Example 2: SBI Model Conversation That Could Improve

Leader: “Last month, when the client report was delayed, it was because you didn’t submit your part on time. The client has expressed concern over our reliability.”

Colleague: “I see. I was juggling multiple tasks. Could we discuss how to manage such situations better in the future?”

Post-Dialogue Notes: The leader was clear about the situation and behavior but could have explored the underlying reasons for the delay with the colleague to find constructive solutions together.


In essence, the SBI Feedback Model is a valuable tool for leaders who want to provide clear and effective feedback. It encourages a culture of open communication and continuous improvement by focusing on specific behaviors and their impacts. When used appropriately, it can lead to significant performance enhancements and more harmonious team dynamics.