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It is generally advised to use a “Sandwich Approach” for giving constructive negative feedback. But have you ever thought- how effective is the Sandwich Approach.

Let’s have an insight into “Sandwich Approach”. As per sandwich approach you first

Say something good to the receiver about the work done , then you

Say what needs improvement  and again you

Say something good to wrap up.

In other words you sandwich the negative information between two positives and comforting information.  Have you ever asked your subordinate what he or she thinks about the sandwich approach ?

The research says that sandwich approach is not much favored by the receiver. Rather they prefer to have a straight talk without any kind of sugar coating. They like to listen it as it is, off course, without humiliation and in civilized language.

Why do some leaders favor the sandwich approach? We observed the following reasons:

  • The leaders think that receiver find it easy to accept the sandwich method as they receive a balanced feedback. The research says that most of the subordinates prefer that manager must straight away get to the point rather than create confusion by bringing up some positive points.
  • Another reason why one should avoid using the sandwich approach is due to ‘selective listening’ habits. Therefore there is always a risk that your subordinate may undermine the feedback by choosing to listen only positive information and ignoring negative.
  • This is myth that people find it easy to accept the negative feedback when it is sandwiched between two positives. In reality it may be right and wrong. Some of your subordinates may just discount the positive information shared during feedback process and only concentrate on negative information.
  • Another myth is that sandwich approach helps in balancing the feedback. No doubt the positive feedback is important. But everybody will not like to eat sour and sweet dishes simultaneously.

Our recommendation:

Avoid the Sandwich approach and use and effective straight talk.  Find a suitable time and environment, and talk to your subordinate with facts, using respectable and parliamentarian language,   without emotional overtones.  For example:  “Shyam, I would like to talk to you on some concern. For last three weeks I am observing that Weekend reports sent by you are getting delayed at least by two days. This is leading to further delays in sending the week closing report to senior leadership team. This is very detrimental for over all image of our team. I would like to understand the reasons and also like to explore some immediate corrective actions with you to improve it”.



Rakesh Sharma

So, what do you think ?

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