Streamlining the “you got a minute?” meeting
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Streamlining the “you got a minute?” meeting

1 year ago · 3 min read



Original content provided by Reality-Based Leadership, with edits by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS).

Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendations (SBAR) model

What is the Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendations (SBAR) model?
This model helps guide employee thinking by eliminating emotional waste. It:

  • Standardizes the thinking process.

  • Makes ideas concrete and developmental needs obvious.

  • Can be applied to real-world situations.

  • Provides unique insight to others’ thinking.

  • Makes the best use of time and ensures work is completed at the appropriate level. It gets managers back to leading instead of over-managing.

Who needs to use the SBAR model?
The SBAR is a great way to structure interactions and can be used in a variety of settings. It is a good tool for every person in a firm, such as:

  • Anyone needing to process a situation quickly and get to the core issue.

  • Any manager wanting to make good use of the infamous “You got a minute?”

  • Any manager wanting to ensure an employee thinks through a situation. It can be used as a guide for the employee’s thought processes, and to bring managers up to speed and solicit help, decisions, and approval in an efficient way.

Why should managers use the SBAR model with employees?
When employees bring their SBAR worksheets to managers, they will have already moved out of the drama and analyzed their situations. This model helps:

  • Employees use critical thinking to present a situation from a neutral place.

  • Managers by providing insight into how employees think and where they need development.

  • Employees stay fact-based and shows them where they need further information from their manager.

Manager’s guide to reviewing SBAR worksheets

To get started, watch this video, describe this new firm practice, and provide the SBAR employee worksheet to all employees. As you review SBARs, consider the following explanations and questions.

This section is a concise statement of the current situation – the facts and no drama. A straight-forward statement that captures the current state of affairs.

  • Is this a fact-based representation of the situation?

  • Is this representation an accurate statement of current reality?

This section is a concise statement of the relevant background that needs to be considered when deciding how to move forward.

  • Are there vital pieces of information missing?

  • Are there any items that the employee may not be aware of or may be minimizing?

Seek to enhance the understanding of the employee and the factors influencing the situation.

This section outlines the employee’s analysis – their diagnosis and interpretation - of the current situation. As a manager, when you review this section, you have an opportunity to observe an employee’s current level of critical-thinking skills, and to gain insight into their problem-solving strengths and weaknesses. Use questions to drive critical thinking and be aware of the tone of the analysis:

  • What difference does it make?

  • Why should we be concerned?

  • Does it address the root cause?

  • What are the main concerns and major risks?

  • Is it based upon accountability?

If you see development opportunities, teach by thinking out loud, asking great questions and teaching problem-solving techniques.

This section contains the employee’s recommended next steps. These recommendations need to be focused on improving or solving the situation with attention to the unique circumstances in the background. It should be driven by the assessment. When you are reviewing this section, look for the merit of the recommendations.

  • Do they address the situation?

  • Are they feasible?

  • Do they match firm philosophy and policies?

  • Do they balance firm and client needs?

  • Are they sustainable?

  • Are they creative?

  • Do they initiate a transactional effort or could they be transformational?

  • What might they jumpstart on a process improvement?

Help the employee see creative and multiple options.

Next steps

Employees can review multiple SBARs with managers in a short timeframe. Through the manager’s review of each SBAR and coaching on each item, employees will develop and think in ways more aligned with the firm. Additionally, over time, employees can collect a series of SBARs and extract key themes based upon their experience of consistent direction from leadership. These SBARs create a knowledge base for the employee, serve as case studies to onboard and develop employees, and expedite consistent decision-making throughout the firm.

Using the SBAR model will conserve energy and put attention on solving issues, diffusing drama and driving results. It depersonalizes issues and moves employees into a professional space where both employees and their manager can offer their best ideas. Eventually this way of processing information and presenting it in an efficient way will become intuitive for all in the firm.

  • Progress on the prior week’s goals.

  • Resources required to meet goals.

To get started, download this worksheet and use it bring structure to your one-on-one meetings with your employees.

Download the Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendations (SBAR) employee worksheet

File name: situation-background-assessment-and-recommendations-sbar-employee-worksheet.pdf

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