The World of Work Project

The CEDAR Feedback Model: Feedback In A Coaching Style

The CEDAR feedback model is a five stage feedback process that is heavily influenced by coaching. The model provides space for the recipient to speak and includes a stage for follow up. The stages are: Context, Examples, Diagnosis, Actions and Review.

Summary by The World of Work Project

A Podcast

We have produced two podcasts on feedback. You can listen to our introduction to feedback below (though it doesn’t cover the CEDAR model):

The CEDAR Feedback Model

The CEDAR feedback model is a structured approach to feedback conversations. It is designed to achieve effective and motivating communication of constructive or corrective messages.

The model follows a broad coaching approach in which the feedback provider uses questioning techniques to help the feedback recipient understand the situation and identify future actions.

The model has five stages: Context, Examples, Diagnosis, Actions and Review.

Context

An example of a conversation using The CEDAR Feedback Model

The first stage of the The CEDAR Feedback Model involves opening the conversation and setting the context. It’s important for the recipient to be aware of the area in relation to which they will receive. It’s also important for the individual to be aware of the importance of feedback itself and how feedback works.

Examples

Having set the scene, you need to provide specific, factual and preferably directly observed examples of actions or behaviors that you want to provide feedback on. Provide enough examples to bring the point to life, but don’t overwhelm the feedback recipient.

Diagnosis

Now that the individual receiving the feedback understand the specific areas that have been identified, the next step is to diagnose the situation with them.

This process usually follows a coaching approach. In this model the feedback provider asks the recipient what they think happened and why. This is a two stage process in which the recipient has the chance to speak and in which the feedback provider listens actively to what they have to say. By the end of this discussion both of you should understand what caused the situation to occur.

Actions

Having worked to understand some of the root causes that led to the situation, you can now move on to determining what actions can be taken to ensure the situation is resolved or doesn’t happen again.

This stage is also usually undertaken through a coaching approach. Here the feedback provider asks the recipient for their thoughts on future actions and next steps. The desire here may be to provide solutions, but doing so should be avoided.

Actions don’t need to be this dramatic!

Review

The last stage of The CEDAR Feedback Model wraps the conversation up. The conversation concludes, but the feedback process doesn’t. We should keep checking in the individual and providing reinforcing feedback on a regular basis as well as having a more formal discussion at a set time.

Learning More

Those of you who have spoken to us will know we have pretty strong views on feedback. We understand that receiving feedback well can be difficult and that feedback can feel like a social threat. We also know that receiving feedback can be triggering, causing our amygdala responses (fight or flight) to kick in. Given this, we think it’s good to focus on learning to receive feedback well before focusing on giving feedback well.

There are several posts in this site on various feedback tools and models which might be helpful. These include 360 degree feedback, the stop, start continue framework and the COIN model. There are also some tools we think you should avoid, including the feedback sandwich.

Our second podcast on feedback might also be helpful. In it we have a conversation with a feedback specialist, Joe Hirsch. You can listen to it below.

The World of Work Project View

Feedback really is a difficult thing to deliver as well as to receive. The feedback process can be emotive and threatening and appear confrontational, which leads people to avoid it. It shouldn’t be like this though. It should be a helpful process in which both parties are aligned in seeking to improve the performance of the feedback recipient. The whole process really should be about what’s in their best interest. Of course, reality often doesn’t work this way.

The CEDAR model is for adult-adult relationships, not parent-child ones.

The CEDAR model is another useful feedback model to have in your toolkit. As with all models, they each have a time and a place and are better suited for use in some situations and with some individuals more than others.

Part of the CEDAR model’s strength lies in its anchoring in coaching methods. This approach leads to effective conversations that are adult-adult (which we’ve not yet written about) and which help the recipient understand and own the areas that should be addressed.

The coaching approach is also part of the challenge with the CEDAR model. If individuals providing feedback are not experienced as coaches they may find the questioning approach uncomfortable or difficult and may not achieve successful feedback conversations.

Overall, we like this model, but think it’s best used by individuals who are already aware of coaching and who have some practice in questioning techniques. For individuals who are not experienced as coaches we’d suggest a more direct and controlled approach such as the COIN / COILED model.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on work by Anna Wildman who created the CEDAR feedback model. You can read more about her and her work here.

Feedback On The CEDAR Feedback Model

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