Nobody is swallowing the compliment sandwich
The compliment sandwich is the most common way leaders have been delivering feedback in recent years.
The problem is, it just isn’t working.
Employees are onto the drill, and the minute you say “good job” they are waiting for the “but.”
The compliment sandwich school of leadership means that you start all feedback by saying something good, then you sandwich in the part that needs improving, and you close the comment with still another compliment.
In practical terms, it sounds like this:
“Hi Jennifer. I really appreciated that you stayed late last night and finished the project for deadline. I had to fix quite a few typos in the final project because you were rushing, but I know that you did it because of your commitment to the company, and that is really praise-worthy.”
What happens is that the employee doesn’t know what to think.
Was it good? Was it bad? Did I do something great or did I screw something up?
They’re also unclear about what corrective action needs to be taken. In this case, for example, is it okay to have typos if the work is completed to deadline, or should she have gone slower and had no mistakes? What is the preferred way of working?
What is a better way of providing feedback as a team leader?
Give only praise or advice.
If the work is well done, say so and try to list specifically one or two aspects of the employee’s performance that were really well done and the kinds of behavior that you want to encourage. Do not use any “buts,” or counselling in the session at all. If there is to be any follow-up, make it a token of appreciation, not a “but you could have…” kind of conversation.
If you need to criticize the employee, be straightforward, but not mean, with them. Tell them you looked over the work and there are two things they could do to improve the final product in the future. Name them.
If you name more than one or two things, the employee will generally feel overwhelmed and respond poorly to the advice you are giving him or her. If you tell them they have a couple of points to work on, they can absorb that and make an effort to do better in those areas.
If you see improvement, follow that up with the straight compliment feedback.
Nothing is gained by giving compliments if you follow them with criticism. The employee doesn’t even hear the good part so all the good will is lost. Nobody is eating the compliment sandwich anymore.
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion.
24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s bestselling books on Amazon: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and her newest release “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth”. For speaking inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free 1-888-502-6317.