Ever heard of the sandwich feedback method? Basically, it boils to this:
A) first you say something nice (“I like / appreciate that you do [whatever]”),
B) then you say what you really wanted to say – so called “corrective feedback” (“you did [whatever] and that is why we had such and such issues, so better never do [whatever] again”, etc. etc.),
C) then you say something nice again.
The idea is that maybe it is easier to swallow this bitter pill if you wrap it in sugar. (Pro-feedback tip: It is not!)
Well, this won’t work (and it also sucks on many levels).
The question is why do you think you need A and C?
- One reason might be, that your feedback-fu is so weak that you can’t do B right. And you hope that by adding A and C you will somehow make B easier to swallow.
- Or maybe, you have no relationship with the person you are offering your feedback to, and you try to build it last-minute by trying to be nice.
Both of the above are fallacies. If the feedback you give is of low quality, then flowers and chocolates won’t help it. And if you have no relationship with a person, you won’t build it with few sentences.
What you will achieve by using sandwich is that the person will be confused (“is he trying to praise me or bash me?”) and probably will accept only one part of your talk and forget the other one. Which one? Hard to tell, it depends.
So what should you do instead?
- work on creating relationships with your co-workers / teammates / subordinates / peers long before your yearly performance review (yuck! I sincerely hope that exchange feedback with people you cooperate with much more often!)
- strengthen your feedback muscles and learn some more valuable approaches like NVC (Non-violent Communication) or FFFF (Facts, Feelings, Findings, Future).