CEDAR feedback


Following the CEDAR™ steps will help to make your feedback conversations constructive and motivating.


The first step is to set the context so that the individual can see how the feedback fits into their overall performance. Without perspective, information is a free-floating fragment, and it can be hard for people to understand its significance. To anchor it within the bigger picture:


  • Introduce the area of feedback and explain that the purpose is to explore both your and their understanding.
  • Explain the level of impact; how big it is, who is affected and the outcome.
  • Explore their perspective and jointly build a combined view of the context.


Explore specific examples to illustrate the situation clearly. In many cases, the individual will identify examples for themselves; it’s especially useful to encourage them to lead the conversation as much as possible when things have not gone to plan. In areas of achievement, however, it’s usually more powerful if you lead. Emphasize behaviors that add particular value in areas of strength.


  • Use enough examples to illustrate the situation. This may be a single substantial example or two or three smaller ones grouped together.
  • Explore what happened, their specific words and/or behaviors.
  • Avoid overwhelming the individual. While it’s crucial to use enough examples to build the picture, more than four can feel like drinking from a fire hose.


Help people explore why they are where they are. Understanding what’s behind their performance is essential to learning, whether the feedback is about an area of strength or a gap. Insight can sometimes be buried in the subconscious, and the more you use a deliberate and reflective approach, the more it will help the individual to make connections and create valuable ‘aha’ moments. To facilitate insight, ask open questions such as:


  • Introduce the area of feedback and explain that the purpose is to explore both your and their understanding.
  • What led up to where you are now?
  • What reasons might be behind this?

In areas of strength, help them to recognize how their capabilities and activities add value. In areas of underperformance, listen out for problems that are the result of poor processes or leadership as much as actions by the individual. The five main causes of underperformance* are learning needs, motivation, outside distraction, a shortfall in capacity, or - in extreme cases - alienation.
* Adapted from the CLADA model by Dr David Pendleton, author, Leadership All You Need to Know 1987


Up to this point the conversation has built awareness; the next step is for the reviewee to apply that understanding and decide what actions will be important going forward. Unless the individual is inexperienced in their role, always encourage them to lead this step; your purpose is to facilitate, not to solve, and people are far more likely to implement actions that they have chosen for themselves. Encourage them to be as concrete as possible; the more they can visualize the difference between where they are now and where they are aiming, the easier it is to see how to achieve it. Ask questions like:


  • What outcome are you aiming to achieve?
  • What actions will it take to get there?
  • What support might you need from others or me?

In some instances, however, the individual might not know what to do, or you may need to be more directive. When this happens, add your suggestions, just don’t do this too early. Your approval is a powerful motivator and people will stay silent if you offer your ideas too soon.


Following up to support and embed any new behaviors is critical. Lasting change only happens if those behaviors move from deliberate actions to unconscious habits, so provide positive and timely prompts to encourage people.


  • Ask the individual when you should check back in together. If you need to suggest an alternative date, explain why..
  • Provide opportunities for them to practice skills in their day-to-day work.
  • Give recognition for progress and troubleshoot any outstanding issues. Emphasize where effort has led to results in order to encourage a growth mindset..