The Situation – Behavior – Impact™ Feedback Tool

Providing Clear, Specific Feedback

The Situation – Behavior – Impact Feedback Tool - Providing Clear, Specific Feedback

© iStockphoto

Use this tool to help people grow.

Imagine that you recently gave some feedback to a member of your team. You told him that his meeting agendas looked great, but he needed to improve his presentation skills.

You follow up a few weeks later to find out why he hasn't made any changes. You discover that he didn't understand what he could do to improve – your feedback simply prompted more questions. He was left thinking "What's good about my agendas that I can transfer to other documents?" and "What's wrong with my presentation skills?"

The Situation – Behavior – Impact™ (SBI™) feedback tool helps you to deliver more effective feedback. It focuses your comments on specific situations and behaviors, and then outlines the impact that these behaviors have on others.

About the Tool

Developed by The Center for Creative Leadership, the SBI™ feedback tool outlines a simple structure that you can use to give feedback:

  1. Situation.
  2. Behavior.
  3. Impact.

When you structure feedback in this way, your people will understand precisely what you are commenting on and why. And when you outline the impact of their behavior on others, you're giving them the chance to reflect on their actions and think about what they need to change.

The tool also helps you to avoid making assumptions that could upset the other person and damage your relationship with him or her.

Applying the Tool

Let's look at each part of the SBI™ feedback tool and discuss how to use it to structure feedback.

1. Situation

When you're giving feedback, first define the where and when of the situation you're referring to. This puts the feedback into context and gives the other person a specific setting as a reference.

For example:

  • "During yesterday morning's team meeting, when you gave your presentation..."

2. Behavior

Your next step is to describe the specific behaviors that you want to address. This is the most challenging part of the process, because you must communicate only the behaviors that you observed directly.

Finding This Article Useful?

You can learn another 149 communication skills, like this, by joining the Mind Tools Club.

Join the Mind Tools Club Today!

You must not make assumptions or subjective judgments about those behaviors. These could be wrong, and this will undermine your feedback.

For example, if you observed that a colleague made mistakes in a presentation, you should not assume that he hadn't prepared thoroughly. You should simply comment that he made mistakes – and, ideally, note what the mistakes were.

Don't rely on hearsay, as this may contain others' subjective judgments. Again, this could undermine your feedback and jeopardize your relationship.

The examples below include a description of the specific behaviors you might want to address:

  • "During yesterday morning's team meeting, when you gave your presentation, you were uncertain about two of the slides and your sales calculations were incorrect."


Aim to use measurable information in your description of the behavior. This helps to ensure that your comments are objective.

3. Impact

The last step is to use "I" statements to describe how the other person's action has affected you or others.

For example:

  • "During yesterday morning's team meeting, when you gave your presentation, you were uncertain about two of the slides and your sales calculations were incorrect. I felt embarrassed because the entire board was there. I'm worried that this has affected the reputation of our team."

Next Steps

Once you've delivered your feedback, encourage the other person to think about the situation and to understand the impact of her behavior. (The Perceptual Positions technique can help her to explore how other people may think.) Allow her time to absorb what you've said as well, and then go over specific actions that will help her to improve.

Also, where someone has done something well, help him to think about how he can build on this.

Key Points

The Center for Creative Leadership developed the SBI™ feedback tool to help managers to deliver clear, specific feedback. SBI stands for:

  1. Situation.
  2. Behavior.
  3. Impact.

To use the tool, describe the "when" and "where" of the situation. Next, describe the other person's behavior, only mentioning actions that you have observed. Then, communicate the impact of his or her behavior on you and others.

Finally, discuss what your team member needs to do to change this behavior in the future, or, if his behavior had a positive impact, explore how he can build on this.

SBI and Situation-Behavior-Impact are trademarks of the Center for Creative Leadership. For more information on how to use and apply this tool in your organization, check out the Center for Creative Leadership's workshop kit: Feedback that Works.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

Show Ratings Hide Ratings


Rate this resource

Comments (26)
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi BelgianArtist2020,

    A warm welcome to you!

    And thank you for your feedback on SBI. I use SBI whenever I have feedback to share. It is simple to apply and very effective.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago BelgianArtist2020 wrote
    Clear and easy to apply - this is a cool "results oriented" process...thank you!
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi jeremy-porkes,

    There are several feedback models out there, but I find SBI (Situation, Behavior, Impact) to be one of the most effective. It is simple to apply and it delivers a message in way that is easy for people to absorb.

    Mind Tools Team
View All Comments