What Is a Feedback Model? Benefits and Common Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Feedback is essential for development and growth within a company. Whether you supervise others or are simply working to improve your own communication skills, using a feedback model can help you describe and influence others' behavior and skills. Learning how and when to give effective feedback is important for contributing to a successful team. In this article, we discuss what a feedback model is, learn the benefits of using feedback models and explore the different types.

What is a feedback model?

Feedback models are tools that help you provide concise, clear and specific feedback to others. They can make it easier to connect with your team to discuss areas of improvement and to reach company and department goals. Companies often use feedback models to reinforce an employee's positive behavior and support behavioral changes in the workplace. Since feedback can be vital in any industry, implementing specific strategies can help many organizations to become more effective.

Related: How To Give Feedback at Work (With Examples)

Benefits of using feedback models

If you know what to say but don't know how to present it well, using a feedback model can help you simplify the feedback process. Here are some specific benefits of using feedback models:

  • Structure: Feedback models can provide you with an easy structure to follow for giving actionable, helpful feedback.

  • Increase confidence: Positive feedback and encouragement can give employees the confidence to act on their good ideas.

  • Improve communication: The structure of feedback models can increase the clarity and effectiveness of employee meetings.

Related: Best Practices for Giving Constructive Feedback

Types of feedback models

Here are some types of feedback models:

The sandwich feedback model

The sandwich method is a feedback tool that highlights accomplishments and areas of improvement to give the employee an opportunity to adjust in certain areas. In the sandwich feedback model, the discussion begins with positive comments and then you provide areas for improvement. After mentioning areas for improvement, you can end with more appreciative words.

The term "sandwich method" comes from the way you pack areas of improvement, like the toppings on a sandwich, in between positive feedback, like slices of bread. The major goal of this feedback method is to create a favorable atmosphere for discussion. This method can help employees be more open-minded during a feedback meeting and ultimately leave the conversation with a good feeling.

Related: Guide To Providing Feedback To Employees

SBI feedback model

The SBI (situation, behavior, impact) feedback tool offers employees an opportunity to reflect on the situation from another perspective, and a chance to discuss strategies for improvement. The tool outlines a simple structure that you can use to provide effective on-the-spot feedback. Here's a closer look at each component of the SBI feedback tool:

  • Situation: You specify the situation you are referring to so that the context is specific and clear.

  • Behavior: You discuss the specific behavior that you want to address.

  • Impact: You explain the impact of the employee's behavior on you, the team and the company.

STAR feedback model

The STAR feedback model can help you provide relevant and actionable feedback by considering these three factors: situation or task, action and results. This feedback model can be a great way to describe a series of events in a way that resonates with the employee. Here's a closer look at each part of the STAR feedback model:

  • Situation or task: First, describe the particular situation or task that the employee faced as specifically as possible. For example, instead of writing "You did a great job...," you can write something like, "Our monthly sales figures went down," or "We had a client complaining about poor service."

  • Action: Next, describe the action that an employee took, either negative or positive. Once again, be as precise as possible and include details such as "didn't manage to make more sales" or "calmed the client down by listening and offering a discount," rather than phrases like "messed up" or "sorted it out."

  • Result: Finally, describe the direct result of the action and explain specifically why the action is effective. You can write statements like "Having calmed the client down, she still made the sale."

Pendleton feedback model

Pendleton's feedback model encourages employees to take part in their review process. It highlights positive behaviors, reinforces these behaviors, includes a discussion of skills to achieve these behaviors and discusses what the employee could have done differently. Follow these steps to use the Pendleton feedback model:

  1. Check that the employee wants or is ready for feedback.

  2. Let the employee give background or comments to the situation or behavior that you have observed.

  3. Ask the employee to identify what went well.

  4. Describe what went well based on your observation.

  5. Ask the employee to state what they could improve.

  6. Describe what they could improve based on what you have observed.

  7. Agree on an action plan for improvement.

Pendleton's feedback model can encourage the employee receiving the feedback to be more receptive by letting them begin the conversation and guide each section. This feedback model can also help the employee feel heard, which can help them be more involved and motivated in improving behavior.

Related: Top 10 Positive Feedback Examples for Employee Performance

DESC feedback model

The DESC (describe, express, specify, consequences) feedback model is a simple yet powerful way to express to an employee what you would like them to do less, more or differently to improve their performance and maximize their effectiveness. It's usually less conversational but can provide a clear statement of a problem and quick motivation for changing behavior. To use the DESC feedback model, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by briefly describing what you have observed.

  2. Then, objectively express the results of their action on you and the company.

  3. Clearly describe what you would like the employee to do differently next time.

  4. Describe what the consequences of this behavior change will be.

IDEA feedback model

The IDEA (identify, describe, encourage and action) feedback model essentially provides a simple, easy-to-remember structure to help you prepare for and manage potentially tough conversations. Here's a closer look at each component of the IDEA feedback model:

  • Identify: It's important that you give specific feedback so that the employee understands exactly what you want them to do differently. Mention the specific problem that they need to address, such as the way they greet customers or the time taken to respond to clients, then describe the problem and clarify your expectations.

  • Describe: Describe the impact of changing the employee's behavior and explain the importance of changing it. You might describe the potential effects on other employees, who need to carry a bigger workload, the impact on the company's revenue or expenses or the impact on customer service.

  • Encourage: Encourage change or continuation by clearly stating that you need the positive behavior to continue and expressing your willingness to help. If the person knows you're encouraging them instead of judging, it can boost their trust, motivation and commitment.

  • Agree: Agree on an action plan by setting a date for further meetings, establishing a period of review or providing some training, coaching or other support. Make sure the steps are specific and measurable so that the next time you meet with the employee, you can decide on objective indicators for assessing feedback implementation.

CEDAR feedback model

What makes this feedback model unique is that it encourages employees to take the lead in discussing their performance rather than just getting orders from the management. The CEDAR feedback model includes the following five stages:

  • Context: Set up the environment for feedback. Check if the employee you're talking with also understands the importance of feedback on the work they do. Employees are likely to be more open to feedback if they understand how it fits into their overall performance.

  • Examples: Be specific and clear in describing the performance you have observed. Take the lead in acknowledging successes, as this can give you the opportunity to offer praise. However, let the employee identify more difficult examples.

  • Diagnosis: Instead of passing judgment, help the employee explore why they are where they are. You can create this insight by asking open-ended questions, such as "What led up to where you are now?"

  • Action: Apply what you have learned from the previous steps by setting goals and developing a plan of action. Keep the collaborative tone by helping the employee identify these actions and goals. You can ask questions such as "What steps do you need to take to achieve it?" and "What results are you aiming for?"

  • Review: Organize a review schedule with the employee. This can help you track progress jointly, and resolve problems or celebrate accomplishments on their journeys to meeting their goals.

Related: The Importance of Giving Employees Constructive Feedback (With Examples and Tips)

360-degree feedback model

The 360-degree feedback model allows employees to receive anonymous, confidential feedback from others in the company, such as peers, managers and direct reports. Companies use the 360 feedback surveys to gain a better understanding of their employees' strengths and weaknesses. This feedback model is useful to help employees be more effective in their current roles and understand what areas to improve.

Most automated 360 feedback systems tabulate the results automatically and present them in a format that can help the employee create a development plan. The system combines individual responses with responses from other employees in the same rater category in order to maintain anonymity and to give the employee a clear picture of their overall weaknesses and strengths. Companies usually use a 360 feedback system in one of the following ways:

  • As a development tool: Companies use 360-degree feedback as a development tool to help employees recognize their weaknesses and strengths and become more effective. Employees can gain insight into how their coworkers perceive them and have an opportunity to change their behaviors and develop skills to excel at their jobs.

  • As an appraisal tool: The 360-degree feedback focuses on competencies and behaviors more than on performance objectives, job requirements and basic skills. These areas are most appropriately addressed by employees and their managers as part of an annual review and performance appraisal process. It's definitely possible and can be beneficial to integrate 360 feedback into a larger performance management process, but only with clear communication on how the company should use the tool.

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