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The BEAN Model for Success with Constructive Feedback

In last week’s post, we talked about what NOT to do when having constructive feedback discussions. This week, I wanted to share some information to help you in planning and preparing for successful feedback conversations.

The BEAN Model for Constructive Feedback

In workshops, I teach the BEAN model. Using this model to prepare in advance will help you think through what you’ll say and facilitate a much more positive outcome in most cases. Here is how it works:

B – Describe the Behavior

  • Be descriptive, specific, and timely.

  • Use “I” statements as they are less threatening than "you" statements.

  • Focus on the behavior, not the person.

E – Share the Effect

  • Describe the actual or potential effect of the behavior.

A Ask for input and explore alternatives

  • Pause and ask the other person for input.

N – Determine Next steps

  • Work together to determine the next steps based on feedback.

An Example - Negative Nelly

As an example, let’s say that you were leading a meeting where you asked employees for feedback on a new initiative. Negative Nelly said under her breath (but loud enough for you and others to hear), I don’t know why you are asking for our feedback; management is going to do what they want anyway.” You felt that this comment was inappropriate and took the meeting in a negative direction, so you decide to give Nelly some feedback.

To address this behavior with Nelly using the BEAN Model, you might say something like this:


Nelly, in the meeting, I overheard your comment about why we were asking for feedback when management was going to do what they wanted anyway.”


“This took the meeting in a negative direction, and as a result, I don’t think we got as much participation as we would have otherwise.”


“Can you share why you made the comment? What other thoughts do you have on the matter?”

Next Steps:

"We have determined that, in the future, you will share concerns directly with me instead of in a public forum."

Several other feedback models are commonly used, but I particularly like this one because it includes a step where you dialogue with the other person and get their thoughts and input. You may discover some things that you don’t understand about the situation, and where appropriate, you can collaborate with them on the solutions.

Give it a try with your next constructive feedback conversation! Let me know if I can help!

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