Hi, we're Aaron & Amy! We’ve been managing tech teams for a combined 12 years, and over this time have learnt (often painfully) what does and doesn’t work. Of all the advice we’d give to first-time managers, giving constructive feedback (A.K.A having a difficult conversation) is the one that feels the most intimidating, least natural, and is often the easiest to put off. But like any other management skill, you can learn how to do this better – let’s talk about using the SIA model to give feedback.
Why give feedback?
Feedback is a gift – if you want to help someone improve, give them honest feedback & clear expectations
Successful management relies on good communication. As a manager it's your job to give feedback when things are going well, and even more importantly, to give useful feedback when things are proving difficult. Sometimes people approach a task in the wrong way, or fail to approach it at all, sometimes their work style offends, intimidates, or excludes others, or maybe they haven't quite mastered the timekeeping and hygiene factors. Whatever the issue, you need to have the difficult conversations, and you need to do it well.
Feedback is a gift – if you want to help someone improve, give them honest feedback & clear expectations.
Preparing to give feedback
Don’t freestyle! Preparing to deliver honest and clear feedback is your responsibility
So you have some feedback to deliver – great! Make it valued and welcomed by doing the required preparation. Don’t freestyle! Preparing to deliver honest and clear feedback is your responsibility. There are four things you need to do:
Preparing what to say can be the most difficult aspect of giving feedback. This is where a model like SIA can help.
The SIA model
The SIA model has 3 parts:
Here's how SIA can help with constructive feedback:
Why this works:
Situation: interrupting in a kick-off meeting
Impact: prevented opinions being heard
Action: let people finish before talking
And it also works for positive constructive feedback:
Why this works:
Situation: team presentation
Impact: clarity for the team, increased confidence
Action: find more opportunities to repeat this
Giving constructive feedback can be intimidating, but as a manager you need to have the difficult conversations, and you need to do them well. Framing your feedback using the SIA model helps you turn a vague piece of feedback into something that's considered, structured, and actionable.
Remember, feedback is a gift! If you want to help someone improve, give them honest feedback & clear expectations.
Shout out to The Geek People for coining SIA :)
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