Basic Feedback Should Be BASIC

One of the key skills of supervisors is giving feedback to employees about their performance. Feedback, of course, includes praise for a job well done as well as constructive observations about how things could be done better. Apprehension about providing feedback to employees is particularly acute among newly promoted supervisors. This is often the result of a lack of the supervisory training. Cathy Lee Gibson of Cornell University came up with the BASIC feedback model to help supervisors provide great feedback to their employees. Feedback, she said, should be:

  • Behavioral – measurable and/or observable rather than attitudinal
  • As soon as possible– that means in close time proximity to the employee’s behavior and it should also be delivered with minimal emotion on the part of the feedback provider – so take the time you need to calm down!
  • Specific and Single Subject – focus on one or two behaviors at a time so the employee can relate to what you are saying
  • Interactive – feedback is a dynamic; two-way interaction not just a one way monologue. Give the employee space to respond throughout the discussion
  • Consistent – be consistent in the way you provide feedback to different employees. Consistency does not mean sameness. Don’t be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when providing feedback to different employees
Using the BASIC feedback model can provide supervisors (both new and experienced) with a great framework for getting past their anxiety for providing employees with the feedback that they need.


Ben Nash is the editor-in-chief of He is the founder and chief developer of the blog, providing tech/design support as well as tips and book reviews. Ben has held many interesting jobs in his professional career, including: barista, landscaper, public policy intern, barista (again), professional horse wrangler, ski lift attendant (aka "liftie"), political science teaching assistant, marketing and sales assistant, and an ecommerce/web d...

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