Ask a group of managers for their tips on providing effective feedback, and the ‘sandwich’ method is often put forward as a winning approach. The premise of this technique is that if a person needs to deliver some "negative" feedback to somebody else they should sandwich it between two pieces of positive feedback, to cushion the impact.
I asked several groups of managers why they advocate the use of the feedback sandwich. The most common responses included:
“Some people won’t be able to handle the negative feedback so it is easier for them if you start and end with the positives”.
“If you are delivering negative feedback you want to finish on a positive note so that the person leaves the conversation feeling motivated”.
The intention behind people’s use of the sandwich feedback method is admirable – maintaining the esteem of team members is important. Very few people perform at their best when demoralised or anxious.