Serving up the feedback sandwich

The feedback sandwich – a management approach that sees criticism wedged between two positive reinforcements – emerged as a way to deliver a less-than-glowing appraisal while keeping your relationship with your employee intact. However, if you’re careless with delivery or don’t make an effort to be genuine, you can throw your management effort further off track.

Here are four factors to consider when serving up the feedback sandwich.

Choose your words carefully

Although using the feedback sandwich can see your workers accept your criticism more willingly, it’s also essential that you’re tactful about how you frame your views. For instance, using specific images and examples that your employee can picture is much more effective than sweeping generalisations. It also helps to avoid negative constructions such as “but” or “however” and moving seamlessly from one point to the next. If you employ caveats, you instantly discredit your compliments, which does more harm than good.

Make sure your compliments are authentic

As tempting as it is to sugar coat your critiques with exaggerated praise, it’s much more sensible to be honest and direct. If you can’t think of a positive reinforcement that reflects your worker’s behaviour, it’s time to put the feedback sandwich to rest. Fake approval doesn’t just invalidate your criticism, it’s also less likely to help earn you respect.

Deliver your feedback with positive intent

If you’re angry or unsettled by your employee’s behaviour, take some time out to reflect. The most effective feedback should pave the way for your worker’s professional development – don’t voice your personal critiques or use the time as an occasion to vent. Remember: your employees will sense your positive intentions and respond more productively if they know you have their best interests at heart. Employee loyalty stems from a big-picture approach to mentoring, rather than a feedback style that’s based on micromanagement and pettiness.

Swap personal critiques for constructive criticism

Even if your feedback sandwich revolves around a serious bugbear, don’t ever let it sink into a personal attack. Steer clear of criticisms that focus on your employee’s personality, appearance or working style – just concentrate on actionable observations that can lead to positive change.

Ultimately, the most successful feedback sandwiches are based on clear, transparent communication and aim to help the subject evolve. If you make an effort to frame your critiques carefully, it’s more likely that employees will strive to do a better job.

Does the feedback sandwich work for you, or do you prefer the 360-degree feedback approach?

Share This Page