The COIN feedback model is a four-step template for giving positive and constructive feedback.
Giving feedback is a critical skill for any team leader, but it can be tricky to deliver effectively. Give feedback that’s too harsh, or say the wrong thing in the spur of the moment, and you could damage your relationship permanently.
Conversely, give feedback that’s too timid, and you may find that the person’s behavior and performance doesn’t improve as hoped.
Feedback is even more difficult to deliver if you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or nervous.
The COIN feedback model sometimes called the COIN conversation model, is a simple framework that you can use to plan your feedback in a constructive, positive, and non-confrontational way.
The COIN feedback model was first described by executive coach and organizational consultant Anna Carroll in her book The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success.
Learning to master feedback will help your team reach its goals more quickly. But in addition to that, it can bring many benefits, including that it:
The COIN feedback model is a four-step process for providing individual feedback, with each step followed in turn. The four steps are:
One of the big advantages of the model is that it keeps your feedback constructive and stops you from getting sidetracked when you’re trying to deliver an important message.
By keeping your feedback concise and focused, you speed up the communication process as there is less space for misunderstandings.
Let’s examine each of the steps in turn.
Begin your feedback by providing context as to what prompted you to give this feedback. Describe the situation in which the event took place. Include additional details such as the circumstances around what happened, who was there, where it happened, and the time and date it happened.
You will sometimes see this step of the COIN feedback model referred to as Connection. This is to place greater emphasis on empathizing and connecting with the person you are providing the feedback to.
The second step of the model is to describe the actions or behaviors you want to give feedback on. This should be a specific action or behavior that you actually observed.
Describe what you observed factually, and avoid using emotional language, making judgments, or describing how the actions made you feel.
The third step of the model is to describe the effect their actions had on you and others.
This is crucial in helping the individual understand how their actions have affected others. Without understanding how their actions have negatively affected others, they are less likely to change their future actions and behaviors.
You can describe the impact of their actions in a tangible way (such as losing a contract) or an intangible way (such as upsetting a team member).
Now that the individual understands the impact of their actions or behaviors, the final step is to mutually agree on how to move forward. In other words, you need to agree jointly on the next steps.
During this step, you need to help them to see how they should have acted and what they can do differently the next time a similar situation arises.
Knowing what words to use during each stage of the model will make the model much easier for you to use.
So let’s look at the words and phrases commonly used to introduce each phase of the model.
The Context stage of the model often begins with phrases like:
The Observation stage of the model often begins with phrases like:
The Impact stage of the model often begins with phrases like:
The Next Step stage of the model often begins with phrases like:
Let’s look at an example of using the model in an office environment to cement how to use the model.
For this example, imagine you manage a small team that you are trying to shape into a high-performance team. Yesterday, in a team meeting, you observed one of your team members mock and ridicule another team member who was absent from the meeting. You think this behavior was unprofessional, and you decide to use the COIN model to prepare for a feedback meeting to get them back on the right track.
You’re rough notes that you prepare for the meeting might look something like this:
Here are some feedback tips which you can use alongside the COIN feedback model to help you give great feedback:
If you’d like to use COIN to help with your feedback, you can download our COIN feedback model template to help you here.
Giving effective feedback is a critical skill for any team leader. The COIN feedback model is a simple framework that you can use to plan your feedback in a constructive, positive, and non-confrontational way.
By using the COIN feedback model, you create less opportunity for misunderstanding because you’re being very precise about what happened, how it made people feel, and what you’d like them to do next.
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