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Feedback Sandwich: Examples, Pros & Cons, Best Practices

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Feedback sandwich or criticism sandwich is a practice that incorporates tactfulness while delivering criticism.

Those opposed to the sandwich approach claim that this approach can undermine the impact of the feedback. According to them, the feedback sandwich method can be ineffective.

In this article, we will address questions about the feedback sandwich method, and different ways to make the feedback sandwich more nuanced to prevent it from being ineffective.

Before diving into explaining and exemplifying the feedback sandwich, let’s express our stance in this ongoing debate.

We think the feedback sandwich or any other approach can work for certain people while it may not be appropriate for others.

We think that the key to providing effective feedback is adjusting how you make your sandwich according to the person who will receive it!

Read this article and find out how to add nuance to your feedback and create the perfect recipe!

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How To Sandwich Your Feedback Step-By-Step

feedback sandwich: how to sandwich your feedback

There are three main elements or ingredients in a feedback sandwich:

Step One – Praise Your Employee: This step includes giving praise to soften the negative impact of your criticism on your employees’ confidence. Moreover, the supporters of the feedback sandwich method claim that by giving praise first, employees will be more open to receiving criticism.

Step Two – Provide Negative Feedback: Add your negative feedback in the middle between the positive feedback examples you are providing.

Step Three – Praise Again: This act aims to end the feedback session on a positive note.

Now that we have explained the basics of the feedback sandwich, it’s time to dive deeper into the nuances of providing feedback!

Should You Use The Feedback Sandwich?

Read the pros and cons of using the feedback sandwich to explore the intricacies of effective feedback-sharing and decide if it’s the right method for you and your employees.

Pros & Cons Of The Feedback Sandwich Method

Pros

1. Softens the Blow

The main reason why people pair negative feedback with positive feedback is because this method softens the negative impact of your criticism. However, there are nuances you need to take into account such as having a clear understanding of your employee’s communication style.

2. Makes It Easier to Give Negative Feedback

Feedback providers often worry about offending the recipient of their negative feedback. For this reason, sandwich method feedback can come in handy.

This method not only softens the blow for the recipients but also helps the providers feel better about discussing an issue related to their direct reports‘ performance.

3. Allows You to End the Feedback Session on a Positive Note

Feedback sandwich includes sharing positive feedback at the end of a meeting and this helps end the conversation on a positive note.

Cons

1. It Can Backfire

Despite having good intentions, by using the feedback sandwich approach, you are technically trying to influence your direct reports without telling them what you are doing. So, this method can feel manipulative and it may backfire.

Specifically, your direct reports may not trust your feedback next time because they may think that you are not being transparent with them.

2. It May Not Be Effective Without A Nuanced Approach

According to a 2019 survey conducted by Gallup, only 26% of employees think feedback works because employees tend to find feedback effective when they ask for it. If are not willing to receive feedback, they won’t be receptive to it.

feedback sandwich: statistics

Managers use the feedback sandwich because they think delivering negative feedback will be easier this way. However, the recipients of the feedback sandwich don’t actively seek feedback from their superiors.

The lack of openness to feedback may lead to suboptimal results when it comes to improving performance.

3. May Prevent the Recipient from Focusing on the Negative Feedback

Feedback sandwich leverages indirect communication to soften the potential negative impacts of the criticism. So, it can lead to ineffective listening habits among the direct reports.

Specifically, if your employees are receiving praise at the end of the session, they may not pay attention to the negative feedback.

Your employees might assume that you are not highlighting the negative aspects of their performance since they have given praise at the end of the discussion.

Feedback Sandwich Examples

A feedback sandwich includes layering criticism between two pieces of positive feedback.

We compiled a list of useful feedback sandwich examples that you can use or draw inspiration from. Here are our examples of the feedback sandwich approach applied to different professional skills:

1. Feedback Sandwich Example About Time Management Skills

Positive feedback: “I want to praise you for your extraordinary devotion to your work. It’s impressive how consistently you’ve met deadlines. Your attention to detail is evident and enhances the overall productivity of our team.

Negative feedback: However, I’ve observed some challenges in the area of time management. There have been instances where deadlines were not met, leading to delays in project timelines.

This has impacted our team’s overall efficiency and, in some cases, resulted in additional stress for team members who had to adjust their schedules to accommodate the delays.

Positive feedback: Moreover, we have taken note of your initiative and desire to take on more responsibilities. We appreciate your proactive approach to problem-solving, and we value the optimistic attitude you bring to work.

We think you can increase the productivity of the work environment even more by making a few adjustments to your time management methods.”

2. Feedback Sandwich Example About Creativity

Positive feedback: “I would like to start by appreciating how you incorporate a structured framework into our projects. Thanks to you, we have adopted a more standardized approach. Your ability to organize and manage our workload effectively is an asset to our team.

Negative feedback: However, I need to mention something that needs improvement and can contribute to our marketing efforts significantly. As a marketing professional, you can consider improving your creative thinking skills.

To use your creativity muscles, consider reading about how to be more creative. By incorporating creative thinking, you will be able to add even more value to our collective marketing efforts.

Positive feedback: Furthermore, you are a fantastic team player. You collaborate seamlessly with your colleagues and you willingly share your expertise, and contribute to a positive work environment.

Your positive attitude and willingness to take on new challenges have had a positive impact on our entire team.”

3. Feedback Sandwich Example About Adaptability

Positive feedback: “I want to thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication. We noted your dedication to meeting deadlines and producing high-quality work. Your diligent work ethic has been a major factor in our team’s success.

Negative criticism: On the other hand, I want to offer criticism on adaptability, which I feel needs additional attention. It appears that adapting to changes and unforeseen circumstances has been difficult.

Whenever new responsibilities or project priorities come up, there has been a consistent inability to adjust.

To improve your adaptability you can keep up with developments in the market, actively look for new challenges, and learn to prioritize tasks more flexibly.

Positive feedback: Furthermore, I want to thank you for your outstanding time management skills. You should be rewarded for consistently meeting deadlines and doing excellent work.

Your efficient time management has made our projects run more smoothly and has been essential in ensuring we consistently accomplish our objectives.”

4. Feedback Sandwich Example About Client Relations

Positive feedback: “I want to express my gratitude for your exceptional presentation skills. Our efforts have been boosted by your ability to clearly and compellingly communicate complex content.

Your presentations are captivating and well-structured, making even the most complex topics easily understood by the audience. Your delivery has also been repeatedly appreciated by your colleagues.

Negative feedback: On the other hand, I’ve observed certain difficulties with client relations. In certain cases, there have been communication breakdowns, and customers have voiced worries about not feeling fully informed in decision-making. This has occasionally affected the general satisfaction and experience of the clients.

We advise creating a more structured communication plan with regular client updates, prearranged check-ins, and a description of the decision-making process to address these issues.

Positive feedback: With a few tweaks and a more proactive approach to client contact, you can improve your client interactions even more.

You can make an even greater and more enduring impact on our client relationships by improving your communication skills.”

5. Feedback Sandwich Example About Adherence to Company Values

Positive feedback: I would like to start by praising your ability to adapt swiftly to changing project requirements. Your enthusiasm during team meetings has been infectious, contributing to a positive and collaborative atmosphere.

Negative feedback: “However, I’ve observed instances where your actions have not fully aligned with our company’s core values.

Specifically, during the recent client presentation, it appeared that you overpromised certain deliverables, which deviates from our commitment to transparency and setting realistic expectations.

Moreover, there was an incident in a team meeting where a fellow colleague’s idea was dismissed without proper consideration, contradicting our value of fostering an inclusive work environment.

It’s essential to address these discrepancies to maintain the integrity of our organizational values.

Positive Feedback: On a positive note, your dedication to delivering quality work has been evident in various projects, showcasing your commitment to our company’s values.

Your attention to detail and ability to meet tight deadlines align seamlessly with our value of excellence.

By paying closer attention to adhering to our company values, you will strengthen your position as a key player in our team.”

6. Feedback Sandwich Example About Communication Skills

Positive feedback: “Let me start by praising you for the good work you’ve done. Your commitment to our team and your efforts on our projects have been greatly appreciated.

Your optimistic outlook creates a productive team atmosphere, and we value your willingness to work together and share your opinions.

Negative feedback: Nevertheless, I’ve observed certain communication difficulties. There have been times when crucial information was not efficiently communicated to the team, which resulted in miscommunications and delays in project completion.

Our success depends on effective communication, therefore it’s critical to resolve these problems and make sure everyone agrees.

Positive feedback: I think we can increase the effectiveness of our team as a whole by improving communication.

We can build a workplace that is more cohesive and productive by making the time to convey important information, give updates regularly.

I value your dedication to the success of our team, and I do not doubt that we can improve our cooperation by resolving these communication issues.”

7. Feedback Sandwich Example About Presentation Skills

Positive feedback: “I would like to thank you for having such a pleasant and captivating presentation style. Notable qualities of your work are your confident speaking, excellent use of visuals, and ability to hold the attention of the audience.

Your presentations are entertaining as well as educational, and they make even the most difficult subjects easier to digest.

Negative feedback: However, you should work on organizing your presentations better, as I’ve noticed. There are moments when it seems like the information is presented incoherently, which causes confusion.

It seems that the overall impact and clarity of your presentations could be improved by taking a more structured approach.

Positive Feedback: On a positive note, your excitement is contagious and your passion for the subject matter is evident. You can make even greater use of your captivating style by streamlining the format of your presentations.

Including a concise conclusion, key points, and an introduction will ensure that your audience understands and remembers the key concepts you are trying to convey.”

8. Feedback Sandwich Example About Alignment With Broader Goals

Positive feedback: “I want to acknowledge your exceptional initiative in the workplace. Our projects were successful because of your willingness to take on new challenges and go above and beyond.

It is truly admirable how you can see where there is room for development and take the initiative to put solutions in place.

Negative feedback: I have noticed, nevertheless, that there are times when your actions could be more strategically aligned with the team’s broader objectives.

Although we appreciate your enthusiasm, please make sure that your proactive efforts are focused on goals that support the priorities of the team because this will contribute to our team’s success.

Positive feedback: Our team dynamics have significantly improved as a result of your proactive approach. Your readiness to take charge and move projects forward has created a culture of continuous growth.

You can continue to play an essential role in our team’s success by keeping this proactive attitude and coordinating your efforts with our team’s overall objectives.”

9. Feedback Sandwich Example About Inclusive Decision-Making

Positive Feedback: “I want to praise you on your ability to make quick and logical decisions. Your ability to think strategically  has been invaluable to the accomplishment of our initiatives.

Negative feedback: In certain cases, however, a more inclusive approach to decision-making is preferable. Your team members have occasionally stated that they would like to be more involved in the decision-making process.

Even though we value your decisiveness, encouraging a more collaborative atmosphere could improve team morale and ensure that all opinions are taken into account before making decisions.

Positive Feedback: Furthermore, our team’s achievements have been fueled by your decisiveness. Our team has gained confidence in you because of your capacity to make difficult decisions.

Adopting a more collaborative strategy like asking key players for their opinions will bring new perspectives to the decision-making process.”

10. Feedback Sandwich Example About Unachievable Goal-Setting

Positive Feedback: “I would like to express my gratitude for your commitment to developing and achieving goals. Your dedication to perfection and your proactive approach to meeting goals are impressive and have played an essential role in our success as a team.

Negative feedback: Nevertheless, there have been cases where the objectives were excessively ambitious, making it difficult to complete all of the listed tasks in the given time frames.

Although your ambitious attitude is inspiring, it’s critical to find a balance between establishing ambitious goals and ensuring that they are achievable.

In addition to increasing the team’s general confidence in achieving goals, this will help combat burnout.

Positive feedback: On a positive note, our team feels more motivated and ambitious thanks to your excitement for creating difficult targets.

It is clear that you are committed to continuous development, and this has motivated others to pursue excellence as well.

Going forward, think about improving your goal-setting approach by dividing more complex goals into smaller, attainable tasks, which will enable a more practical and achievable strategy.”

Best Practices For Feedback In The Workplace

Best Practices For Feedback In The Workplace: feedback sandwich

1. Use Feedback Software: Teamflect

You need feedback software regardless of how you prefer serving your feedback. Your efforts to provide actionable and effective feedback will be streamlined if you use an all-in-one performance management software.

As the best performance management software for Microsoft Teams, Teamflect allows you to conduct pulse surveys, 360-degree feedback, and automated review cycles without ever having to leave the Teams app.

If you are already using Microsoft Teams Outlook, Notes, or other MS Office tools, then you need to have a closer look at what Teamflect offers!

Teamflect offers modules such as Recognitions, Tasks, OKRs, Feedback, or Performance Reviews that work well with each other and allow users to relate the feedback or recognitions to their tasks, goals, or performance reviews.

  • Goal Setting & Tracking
  • Power BI Reports that give users key insights into their organization.
  • Keeps the performance management process in a single app.
  • One-on-one meetings with built-in task assignments, note-taking, and feedback templates.
  • Customizable and automated review cycles with built-in templates.

If you are in the market for Microsoft feedback software then you are invited to learn more about what we offer for your organization!

Use the best 360-degree feedback tool for Microsoft Teams!
No sign-up required.
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2. Ask Before Giving Feedback

One of the most effective practices of giving feedback is asking the employees if they want to receive it. When employees proactively seek feedback they will be more open to receiving criticism to improve their performance.

You can use this practice if you opt for the feedback sandwich approach. However, remember that people have different preferences regarding finding motivation to improve their skills and attitudes.

Some would get more motivated if they hear praise, while some may find constructive criticism more motivating.

So, the feedback sandwich approach can be more appropriate for the people who draw motivation from positive feedback whereas a direct approach to providing criticism might work for the others.

As we mentioned in the introduction, the key to serving effective feedback is asking if the recipient prefers the method you will use.

3. Be As Specific As Possible

By providing feedback, you are helping your direct reports improve their professional skills. So, you need to be as specific as possible.

Vague comments will not help them understand what they can focus on to improve their performance.

Positive feedback also needs to be specific because it can only reinforce positive behavior when it clearly shows what your employees are doing right.

For instance, if you want to comment on your colleagues’ decision-making, saying “I think you need to focus more on effective decision-making strategies.” will be less impactful than saying “I think you can improve your decision-making if you focus on doing research and collecting feedback before making a decision.”

Furthermore, providing specific feedback will help you yield better results while using the sandwich technique because when you are specific, you will highlight your negative feedback and it will be more memorable.

So, another nuance that determines the effectiveness of the feedback sandwich is making your feedback specific.

4. Be Mindful Of Your Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is critical especially when you try to convey that you are not being hostile with your negative feedback.

You need to be aware of how you come across with your nonverbal communication to prevent misunderstandings.

Your body language, facial expressions, and your tone of voice all contribute to nonverbal communication.

A useful tip for incorporating effective nonverbal communication is meeting someone’s eye to reassure them.

Making eye contact will prevent miscommunication while delivering negative feedback since you’ll be able to convey that your criticism is not malicious.

5. Provide Timely Feedback

You need to make sure you provide timely feedback. Otherwise, you may forget the details and may not be able to not give specific and detailed feedback.

Another essential tip for finding the right time to provide feedback is to wait 24 hours before commenting.

Waiting before giving negative feedback will allow you to reflect on the issue and avoid unnecessary negativity from poisoning your dialogue.

6. Give Room To React

Your direct reports should also be able to comment on your constructive feedback because your judgment may not always be on point.

On top of that, they should be able to ask questions about how to improve their skills or add anything that explains their behavior.

Once you deliver your feedback in a way that your recipient prefers, ask them if they have any comments on what you’ve said.

Furthermore, brainstorm actionable solutions to help them improve their skills.

Written by Duygu Soysanli

Duygu is a content writer who enthusiastically writes useful content about the dynamic world of HR.

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