• marion@marionspeaks.com
  • 289 969 7691
  • marion@marionspeaks.com
  • 289 969 7691
CommunicationDifficult peopleLeadership: Say it like a leader

Forget the sandwich and give feedback that works!

By May 22, 2012 December 4th, 2019 No Comments

I learned something this week that changed how I give feedback.

For years I’ve been teaching and practicing giving feedback using the “sandwich” method. You may know it as the “success sandwich”, while others have a less tactful name for it (you likely know that one too ;o)

You’re probably aware of this method that suggests it’s best to serve feedback prefaced with a positive, give the suggestion for change, then end with another positive. Maybe you’ve even used it yourself, or had this sandwich served up to you.

Here’s why that system doesn’t work … You’re waiting for the shoe to drop.

That traditional approach might work once, maybe twice. After that, you begin to notice a pattern. You tell yourself, “Hey, when Joe gives me a compliment, it’s followed by the old one-two knock-down punch”. You begin to associate an atta-girl or atta-boy with a negative. You’re waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop and feel like you’re being buttered up, only to be knocked down.

A colleague of mine, Shelle Rose Charvet, introduced me to a new way of looking at and giving feedback. She told me about a certification course that she was overseeing. Through many years of giving this week-long course, there were always two or three people who didn’t quite make the cut and therefore, did not gain certification.

Then, she changed how she gave feedback, and guess what? She got different results. You can too.

Shelle began to offer only positive feedback and you know what happened? For the first time in years of her giving this certification course, every single person passed. Now, that doesn’t mean that she and her team of coaches didn’t offer suggestions for change – they just changed the way they did so.

I’ve gleaned from Shelle’s system and added my own touch to come up with a formula for giving feedback that will work. You have the exact wording you can use below Here it is:


1) “When you …” (describe his/her behaviour)

2) … consider doing this (describe your suggested behaviour)

3) “This will help you to GET …” (describe the benefit, the gain, what they will MOVE TOWARD)

4) “And, it will help you to AVOID …” (describe the pain, what they will MOVE AWAY FROM)

5) End with an authentic compliment and encouraging praise.

In action, it sounds something like this:

“Tom, when you hand in a report, consider the idea of including some charts in it. This will help you get your point across in a snapshot to senior management who is time-pressed, and you’ll avoid the frustration and time of leadership not responding quickly and when they finally do, you having to explain and clarify the points you’re making. Good job on this report! You’ve produced a polished and useful document that will impact the direction management takes. I look forward to seeing your next one.”

No one likes to be chastised.

Instead of sounding like chastising — “Tom, your report is good BUT it didn’t have charts in it. That’s an oversight” — this alternate approach is simply an observation without a tone of reprimand. It communicates the same information with a different and more positive tone.

Some people believe that the best way to give feedback is to break someone down so you can build them back up the way want them. I disagree. There’s no need to “break” anyone, especially if you hope to keep them engaged and motivated.

And there you have it — a different slant on how to serve up feedback. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. In fact, if you have comments about this article, or my website, or one of my sessions you may have attended or any aspect of my biz, offer your feedback using this new model. This is a safe and confidential place for you to practice your new skills. 

I look forward to hearing from you and how this technique works for you. Now that’s feedback I value. PLEASE POST YOUR FEEDBACK BELOW 🙂

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author

© 2012-2019 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete tagline with it: Communication consultant, author, and professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein motivates and teaches individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, how to improve morale, confidence, and productivity by changing how they communicate. Get weekly hands-on tips by signing up for “Marion’s Communication Tips” at www.MarionSpeaks.com

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