Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Is it time to bin the praise sandwich?

Many moon ago, when I was first taught about giving feedback the 'praise sandwich' was drummed into me as the way to do it.  You know the one - first say something nice, then deliver the bad news and then end on some good news. And I, like many managers and leaders, dutifully tried to apply this in practise.

The trouble was most of the recipients caught on fast. Rather than hearing the good news as genuinely intended, they saw it as inauthentic and unnecessary window dressing. "Why can't you cut to the chase?" was the legitimate response. Often our honest attempts at giving balanced and useful feedback backfired.

So what to do instead?  Rather than leaning on formulaic processes, wouldn't it be better if we can be straight and honest and say what we need to say.. without all the trimmings. I don't mean being brutal - the honest truth is not the same as the brutal truth - just straight and direct.

So here's my tests for giving effective feedback:

  1. Has it landed? - feedback is worthless if the recipient rejects or defends against the message.
  2. Will it lead to change? - the recipient has to be able to act on the message
  3. Has it built/maintained the relationship? - has it been done in a way that enhances the relationship and builds self-esteem.

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