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Sandwich Method

What is the Sandwich Method?

Sandwich Method is a way of giving feedback. If you are you in the midst of rehearsing for something big?  Talking with a teammate about something that went wrong?  Reviewing with the team how a recent event unfolded?  These are all times when you might need to deliver some “constructive feedback.”  It’s important to pause and reflect after you do something big.

Being objective and critical is key to improving, but it can also make people uncomfortable, defensive, and unwilling to listen.  So how do you convey your message across without upsetting anyone?  Use the Sandwich Method.

Just like the sandwich which has two slices of bread with some meat in the middle (or PBJ or whatever), your approach to delivering constructive criticism can be built the same way.  Here’s how it works:

First Slice of Bread:  Positive feedback

Start with genuine praise for something the person did well as an honest feedback.  This sets a positive tone, and makes them more receptive to what you have to say.

Try to be specific; focus on what they did and how it was a good thing.

Example:

Bob, I wanted to point out how well organized I thought you were for the cookout this afternoon: you had all the charcoal, utensils, and condiments you needed, the burgers and the dogs were ready to go on time, and your crew seemed to know what they were doing already.

Those checklists you made seem like they really did the trick. It made me feel great to see how well your were representing the club.

The Meat:  Constructive Feedback

Next, deliver your constructive feedback thoughtfully.  Be sure to focus on the behavior or action, and not on the person – you’re not trying to change who the person is, just what they did.

Example:

As good as the cookout was, Bob, I don’t feel that the cleanup went very well.  There was trash all over the place on the pavilion and some of our guests ended up having to help us and clean it up.

If we don’t leave the place clean like we found it, we might not be able to use it next year, and having the guests cleaning up makes all of us look bad. 

For the next event, maybe you could add cleaning supplies to your list, and be sure to recruit a couple teammates to help out when the cooking is done.

Second Slice of Bread:  End on a High Note 

Follow up with a second positive comment.  This continues the tone you set at the beginning, reassuring your teammate that your goal is not to tear him down.

Overall, I’m pleased at how well the cookout ended up and thankful that you were able to put so much energy into it.  With you in charge, I’m sure that next year’s event will be even better.  Thanks for your help.

Using the Sandwich Method, you can get your point across without getting teammate offended.  By shrinking the critical part between two slices of positive feedback, you have complimented them twice, and ended the discussion on a high note.

When is the sandwich method used?

The sandwich method is used in professional life very often, especially in appraisal interviews in which the manager evaluates the performance of the employee. However, the sandwich method is also used for spontaneous feedback so as not to attach too much importance to negative feedback.

The sandwich method is also used in everyday life when telling friends or family something they may not want to hear or a negative statement. The sandwich method is also popular in sales as well as retailing, salespeople use it to try and sell potential customers a product. Instead of criticism, however, salespeople pack the price into a sandwich the bread slices are then the advantages or possible uses of the product. These should be so convincing that the price hardly seems important any more to the customer.

Criticism regarding the sandwich method

One criticism often voiced about the sandwich method is that it could take away the value of truly being praised and being genuine. The reason for this is that employees quickly see through this tactic if it is used frequently especially. Positive feedback is therefore no longer received as honest praise, but merely as an introduction to negative feedback indeed. In addition, the sandwich method hides the actual points of criticism in positive evaluations, so the actual criticism is also lost, or the employee doesn’t know how important it is to understand what they’re being told and make changes accordingly.

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