Friday, April 28, 2017

Start-Stop-Continue Feedback Model

There’s a big pressure for being productive, both as an individual and collectively in the workplace, and this pressure is ever increasing. There is David Allen's Getting things done, there's Lean Management, there’s a general pressure to cut costs, the pressure we all feel to answers our boss' email on the fly at any time and even the pressure to see the Manneken Pis when we go to Brussels on vacation - regardless if we’re having fun or not, what we really must do is to go see the Manneken Pis. Is there anything when can do to ease this pressure?


So we all have to be productive to some extent and one of the ways to do it is to use feedback. For several reasons, one the models that is most used is the sandwich model and a while back Alison Wood wrote about it here on “Feedback sandwiches all round – why I like the “sandwich method”, by Alison Wood”.
Shortly after, I wrote about why I wasn’t such a big fan about this model on “Where can I get a Feedback Sandwich?
For me, the main thing is about how you listen to this kind of feedback. At first, if you don’t know how it goes, it might work just fine. But once you know you’ll have some sort of criticism in the middle, that’s what you’re going to listen to, regardless of what else is said. But there are ways to go around this.

The Start-Stop-Continue feedback model

And here is one possible way to do it: the Start-Stop-Continue feedback model. Why is it different? Because if explicitly focus on 3 types of feedback. If focuses on:

  • What you should START doing: because you can make something work better,
  • What you should STOP doing: because it isn’t working for some reason,
  • And what you should CONTINUE to do: because it’s working just fine

Any feedback you provide should go through these 3 steps because this way it provides a complete overview of what you’re doing, similar to a 360 review. And you know that each of these matter, and so you’ll listen to all 3 aspects.
Furthermore, I believe you can use it cross culturally with success - much unlikely the sandwich feedback model which may work well in a North american culture but no so much in others, such as the Portuguese culture.
And finally, You can use it with peers, with people who report to you and with the people who you report to - as long as feedback i’s expected, you can always use.
Just don’t offer your thoughts in this fashion to someone who is not expecting it and doesn’t know about it. Suppose your CEO doesn’t know anything about this Start-Stop-Continue feedback model. And suppose you meet him in the elevator and he asks you “So what do you think about these last board changes?
I’m pretty sure the end result would be pretty bad if tell your CEO what he should START doing, what he should STOP doing and I doubt you’d get the chance to say what he should CONTINUE doing…


I believe this model is applicable to almost any situation, as long as:
People are expecting the feedback,
And people know about how this feedback model works.
But some of the obvious opportunities to use this are:

  • Performance reviews
  • Retrospective sessions
  • Lessons learned sessions

For instance, I belong to a Toastmasters Club and, like in all Toastmasters clubs, we are expected to use the sandwich feedback model. But when I provide feedback either on a speech or the session itself, I try to deliver my feedback using this start-Stop-Continue model but in the form of a sandwich. This is just to say that the possibilities are next to endless!


Please use feedback as a way to increase performance - it works really well! But take your time picking the model that works best for you. Don’t use the Sandwich model or the Start-Stop-Continue model just because someone says it’s great. You should take the time to consider the benefits and the cons on your particular context.
Having this said, I do like this Start-Stop-Continue feedback model a lot and  do believe it provides great results in any given context. But you give it a try and let me know!

As Richard L. Evans said,
We need the courage to start and continue what we should do, and courage to stop what we shouldn't do.

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