The AEIOU Model for Providing Feedback
Providing feedback should occur regularly in groups or between two people, at any level of your team, group or organisation.
It can be used between manager and team member; team member to team member; or manager to manager. Focusing on collaboration or a Win/Win outcome, the key to providing feedback is a concept known as Positive Intentionality (sounds complex but it’s really simple).
Positive Intentionality assumes the other person means well and is not trying to cause a conflict.
For example: Your manager has delegated the coordination of an OH&S training workshop (to help train staff from all units in the region) to you because of your background and experience. She constantly checks with you “just to see how it’s going”. You find this annoying and you’re beginning to feel that you’re not trusted.
If you approach your manager to discuss this and begin with a question such as “Why are you constantly looking over my shoulder when you assign me to a task?” you’ll most likely come across as being accusatory, which will probably result in her becoming defensive.
With Positive Intentionality, you attempt to identify a positive reason in your manager’s mind for her action. Perhaps she simply wants to make sure everything is going right, or that you aren’t overloaded.
After you’ve identified a positive intention, you can then use it to open the issue without putting your manager on the defensive. If you start a conversation with “I believe you’re concerned about getting this workshop organised ” you are identifying with your manager’s concern rather than accusing her actions.
Steps in AEIOU model for providing feedback
A: Assume the other person means well
If you assume the other person is trying to cause conflict, the chances for effectively managing the situation are greatly reduced. However, if you attempt to identify a positive intention and state it to the other person, you substantially increase the possibility of resolving the differences.
E: Express your feelings
After you’ve indicated to the person what you perceive to be a positive intention, you then respond by affirming that position and expressing your own specific concern.
I: Identify what you would like to happen
In this step you non-defensively propose the changes you would like to see occur. Although you need to be firm in your approach, the language you choose is very important. Think of how saying “I want” would be received compared to “I would like”
O: Outcome expected
Indicate the positive outcomes, and emphasise the positive expectations for both of you. Make sure you highlight the benefits (e.g. What’s in it for me – WIIFM)
U: Understanding on a mutual basis.
In this final stage, the aim is to get the other person to agree to your proposal. A good way to do this is to ask “Could we agree to this for a while and see if it works out for both of us?” Of course there are always two sides to the story so you need to be ready to consider Compromise or alternative options in this step
|A – Assume the other person means well||I believe that you are concerned about the impact of OHS issues in our units. Maybe you’re worried about me being able to get the workshops organised in time. Right now…|
|E – Express your feelings||…I feel that you either doubt my ability to cope or don’t believe that I will get it sorted out.|
|I – Identify what you’d like to see happen||I would prefer that I could let you know if I need assistance and could call you and give you an update every fortnight.|
|O – Outcome expected||This would ensure that the workshop goes ahead on time and that you are kept up to date with its progress or if there are any problems.|
|U – Understanding||Could we agree to this approach for the next two weeks?|
- Prepare your script well before the feedback session
- Get through your script before inviting a response
- Clarify issues that are unclear
Download the Resources
I’m writing this on a Friday and I’m feeling uncomfortably generous. Here are two templates for you to download and use:
Resource 1 – Background to the AEIOU Model for Providing Feedback
Resource 2 – Feedback script AEIOU Feedback Template