3 models for giving good feedback

September 17, 2021

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Don't sugar coat it...

Giving feedback is a skill that improves with practice and preparation. Here we’ve outlined some useful models that can help you plan what you need to say and deliver the feedback effectively.

1. McKinsey’s Model

In McKinsey’s model, feedback is delivered in three parts:

  • A is the specific action, event or behaviour you’d like someone to change
  • B is the impact of that behaviour
  • C is a suggestion for what the person could do differently next time

How it Works

The ABCs are expressed as follows:

“When you did [A], it made me feel [B]. In the future, I would recommend that you do [C].”

Which will sound something like this:

“When you arrived late for the team meeting, it made me feel frustrated as we couldn’t get started. In the future, I would recommend you let us know if you are delayed.”

The Benefits of this Model

One of the McKinsey model’s greatest strengths is that it diffuses arguments by focusing on facts so that the person you’re addressing is less likely to take your words too personally. Find our more.

2. The Stanford Method

The Stanford method similarly includes three parts:

  • I like …?
  • I wish …?
  • What if … ?

How it Works

In this approach, your feedback starts with either “I like”, “I wish” or with a suggestion phrased as “What if … ?”

How it sounds…

“I like that you were so passionate presenting our product this morning.”


“I wish you would spend a little less time explaining all the features as the prospect had some very specific questions that we then had to rush through.

What if you leave a little more time for questions during your next presentation?”

The Benefits of this Model

People respond well to this technique because the structure describes your feelings in a non-accusing manner. Find out more.

3. The SKS approach

The SKS approach is very similar to the Stanford approach. SKS stands for:

  • STOP
  • KEEP

How it Works

Begin your feedback by addressing the following questions:

What should the person stop doing?

What should the person keep doing?

What should the person start doing?

For example…

Your colleague prepares thorough but overly detailed presentations that leave people overwhelmed. You might say to them:

“Your presentations will be more effective if you can make them less detailed — there’s simply too much for people to take in.

The research you do is really valuable. You should keep doing it.

Can you give some thought to how you can make each presentation a bit more high level? You could distribute a follow up report so that people can go into the detail at their own pace.”

The Benefits of this Model

The SKS method is action-focused and reassuring. Nevertheless, you should be careful to not only focus on specific activities that the person should stop or start; otherwise, they may feel you’re only criticising them. Find out more.

What is your favourite feedback model? Let us know in the comments or @saberruk

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