The World of Work Project

The CEDAR Feedback Model

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

The CEDAR Feedback Model

The CEDAR model is a structured approach to feedback conversations 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 and provides an opportunity for the individual receiving the feedback to explore and respond to the feedback in the Diagnosis stage.

Context

The first stage of the feedback process involves opening the conversation and setting the context. It’s important for the recipient to be aware of the area in relation to which feedback is going to be provided, but it’s also important in this model 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 which 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 you listen 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 in which 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 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.

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.

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