Constructive Feedback - The AID Model and the Power of Curiosity

Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
2 October 2023
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Constructive feedback plays a pivotal role in nurturing employee growth, improving performance, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. In this blog post, I’ll introduce you to the AID model - Action, Impact, and Desired Outcome - and the essential role of curiosity in the feedback process. This will transform the way you provide feedback within your organisation.

The AID Model

The AID model is a structured approach to giving constructive feedback that enables managers to provide clear, specific, and actionable feedback to their team members. Let’s break down the steps:

1. Action

Begin your feedback by describing the specific action or behaviour that you observed. Be precise, avoid generalisations, and focus on the facts. For instance, instead of saying, “Your presentation was terrible,” say, “During your presentation, you frequently stumbled over your words and appeared unprepared.”

Why is this important? It prevents miscommunication and ambiguity. When you pinpoint the exact action that requires improvement, the recipient can better understand what needs to change.

2. Impact

Next, describe the impact of the action on the project, team, or organisation. Explain how the behaviour affected the outcome or the people involved. Using the previous example, you might say, “Your presentation’s lack of preparation and stumbling caused confusion among the team, leading to delays in our project timeline.”

Why is this important? Understanding the impact of their actions helps individuals realise the consequences of their behaviour. It connects their actions to real-world outcomes and motivates them to make positive changes.

3. Desired Outcome

Finally, outline the desired outcome or expectation for future behaviour. This part of the feedback should be forward-looking and solution-oriented. In our presentation scenario, you could say, “In future presentations, I expect you to thoroughly prepare, rehearse, and communicate confidently to ensure a smoother project flow.”

Why is this important? Offering a clear vision of what’s expected empowers individuals to take actionable steps towards improvement. It provides a roadmap for change and sets clear performance expectations.

The AID model helps managers provide feedback that is specific, actionable, and solution-focused. However, to enhance the feedback process even further, we should also embrace the power of curiosity.

The Power of Curiosity in Feedback

In addition to the AID model, curiosity is an invaluable tool in the feedback toolbox. When giving feedback, it’s essential to inquire about the underlying causes and motivations behind the observed behaviour. Here’s why curiosity matters:

1. Understanding the Why

Imagine a team member consistently misses project deadlines. Instead of merely addressing the behaviour, be curious about why it’s happening. Is it due to a heavy workload, lack of necessary resources, or personal issues? By understanding the root cause, you can provide targeted support to address the issue effectively.

2. Fostering Empathy

Curiosity cultivates empathy. When you take the time to explore the reasons behind someone’s actions, you show that you care about their well-being and success. This can lead to stronger team relationships and improved morale.

3. Encouraging Open Communication

Being curious encourages open and honest communication. When team members know that their manager is genuinely interested in their perspective, they are more likely to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. This, in turn, leads to better collaboration and innovation.

4. Motivation and Buy-In

Employees who feel heard and supported are more motivated to excel. When you show curiosity about their challenges and successes, it demonstrates that you value their contributions and are invested in their growth. This, in turn, leads to increased buy-in to organisational goals and requirements.


Constructive feedback is an indispensable tool for business owners and people managers aiming to nurture their team’s growth and improve overall performance. The AID model - Action, Impact, and Desired Outcome - provides a structured approach to delivering feedback that is specific and solution-focused. However, to truly empower your team and foster a culture of continuous improvement you must embrace curiosity as well.

By being curious about the ‘why’ behind actions and behaviours, you can provide more tailored support and better understand the motivations driving your team members. This not only enhances your feedback process but also builds stronger relationships, encourages open communication, and boosts motivation and buy-in to your organisation’s goals. Remember, feedback isn’t just about pointing out mistakes; it’s about guiding individuals toward their best selves. So, as you continue to develop your feedback skills, remember to combine the precision of the AID model with the power of curiosity to create a feedback culture that drives success and growth within your organisation.

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