Bad Managers Sandwich. Good Managers Drop The Bread.

Are we all familiar with the Sandwich Feedback Technique in which a good bit of feedback is given (praise), then constructive feedback (criticism), then another good bit to round out the burger…er, sandwich?

Can we all make a promise that we’ll never use this technique again? Puhlease!!

Here’s why:

  1. It’s confusing. Are you telling your direct report that they are doing well or telling them they need to change something?
  2. If you sandwich once I’m willing to bet you sandwich a lot and your direct reports know it. This dilutes every compliment you ever give because employees know that the next words out of your mouth will be criticism.
  3. Truly, this technique waters down the positive feedback you give to your employees.
  4. Managing is about being able to be honest and up front with your direct reports. Try this, “Hey Bill, stop doing this shit because it’s costing us a lot of money. Okay, thanks.” Actually, scratch that but seriously, being honest just works better and if done a bit more tactfully then my example your employees will appreciate it.

If you struggle with giving critical feedback ask for help from other managers, get a coach, practice in the mirror beforehand. There are techniques you can use to allow you to give straightforward and honest feedback that will help your employees grow. Believe me, they don’t want to be confused either so just come out and say what the problem is. Then offer to help them with the solution.

Save the bread for a time when the only thing you’re giving out is a compliment without the butt.

…see what I did there? Was that little butt pun good or terrible. Let me know – openly and honestly.

Marisa is a leadership coach, management trainer, and motivational speaker on all things Culture and Engagement.  She has helped lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.


About Marisa

Marisa Keegan is a leadership coach, trainer, and HR consultant for quickly growing organizations who are passionate about strengthening their employees, their brand, and their culture. She has helped lead the HR, culture, and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. She is an author at Fistful of Talent and Culture Fanatics. Marisa has her Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology and currently lives with her husband and twin boys in Richmond, Virginia.
This entry was posted in A Rant For The Sake of Ranting, Marisa Keegan. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Bad Managers Sandwich. Good Managers Drop The Bread.

  1. Sarah says:

    Really good advice – I think I might be a shocker for this! Funny though, I actually don’t mind receiving this kind of feedback, it’s just so much more palatable than blunt honesty. Especially if it’s just a small error, I hate being told that was the only thing I did wrong and nothing else!

  2. Ben Hubbard says:

    This makes sense… besides, if you’re meeting frequently with the employees and giving feedback when needed, there’s no time to let two pieces of bread build up… If it’s not an Earth-shattering issue, maybe end with “But look, everything else is still great, so try to fix this one thing.”

    Just hit me: When I used to coach soccer, if I’d find myself harsh on a player (even though the feedback was honest), I’d end with “You’re still awesome,” or “I’ve still got faith in you…” it kind of boosts the message I think.

    Conversely, if it’s a big big mistake (on the field or in the office) letting them know that it can’t happen again adds “umph” to the message.

  3. Jilian says:

    Managers Tools has a great feedback model…. (There are a ton of podcasts on it… this is just one. ALL:

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