Feedback sandwich – 5 reasons not to make

Feedback sandwichThe feedback sandwich has been used time and time again as a method for providing effective feedback.

In my experience, and talking with hundreds of leadership training and management training course, we have found that is simply does not work.

For those that do not know, the feedback sandwich provides three pieces of feedback

  • Firstly, a piece of positive feedback is given.
  • Secondly, a critique, suggestion or piece of negative feedback is given.
  • Thirdly, the sandwich is topped off with another slice of positive feedback.

Just like a real sandwich, eating a sandwich with good bread but with bad meat in the middle, isn’t enjoyable at all!

5 Reasons the feedback sandwich does not work

1) People know what is coming
The feedback sandwich has been used so much, people walk into the feedback session already with a negative mindset of “I am going to be told some nice things, with some not great things camouflaged in between.” This does not aid clarity or the effectiveness of the feedback.

2) The bit that you want to get across is smothered in sweetness
It is quite easy to focus on the positive feedback and often the transition to the performance improvement feedback is done badly or in a way that does not signal the change in the conversation. Again this means that traction is lost on the performance improvement feedback.

3) Telling is not as effective as asking
Engaging team members in a two way conversation is more likely to create better results as the issue is explored and solutions are co-created.

4) People leave confused
Because of the mixed messages people quickly become unsure about which ones they should action or what they should do next.

5) There are far many better ways
The idea of the feedback sandwich is quite old although many people are still peddling it. Over recent years many more effective models of feedback have been developed.

Alternatives to the feedback sandwich

Each each feedback session is unique and there is no perfect way of giving praise or performance improving feedback.

Having said that there are some ways of structuring feedback that I know work from personal experience and coaching and training leaders to give feedback.

There are many different ways you can structure your feedback. Two ways that I know that work well are the AID and CEDAR feedback models.

Feedback Sandwich – Leadership reflections

How did you last do a good feedback session with one of your team? How did it go? What structure did you use?

How can you make your next feedback session more powerful for the person on the receiving end?

What was the last time you asked your team for feedback? Ask them to provide some structured feedback to you!


Thanks for reading this. If you have any feedback on this feedback article or any additional models or concepts around feedback that I should look at please reply below.



[Image Source: User Gjrdesign]

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