Effective Communication – How to Give Constructive Feedback With the Feedback Sandwich Technique

Providing regular, constructive feedback helps to motivate and retain staff. Everyone wants to know how well they are doing, and have opportunities to learn and grow. When you take the time to share some feedback with an individual, it makes them feel valued and will contribute towards retaining them in the long run. Invest in your team by taking the time to prepare and deliver individual feedback.

Negative feedback is never easy to give, but sandwiching criticism between layers of praise makes it more palatable and more effective. It is possible to tell someone what you like and dislike about his or her performance in a constructive way, by serving a “feedback sandwich”.

Use this “feedback sandwich” technique for giving feedback that is more palatable. First, share a quality or characteristic that you appreciate, then give one area for improvement, and finish with some positive words of encouragement or appreciation.

  • Bread: Start with a positive statement.
  • Meat: Put an area that need improvement in the middle.
  • Bread: End with a positive statement of encouragement.

For this feedback sandwich, the “bread” is quite thick (lots of positive encouragement and appreciation) and the “meat” or filling is thin. It’s like an Italian panini with heavy, flavourful bread; not a Smoked Meat Sandwich with thin rye bread and lots of smoked meat!

1. Praise and Acknowledgment

Begin with acknowledgment and praise.

Be generous.

Let the individual know how well they are doing.

Be specific and descriptive.

Be sincere and genuine.

2. Area for Improvement

Be constructive.

Focus on one area at a time.

Focus on concrete behaviour that needs to be reinforced or corrected.

3. Encouragement

Acknowledge areas of strength.

Build on areas of strength.

Explain how strengths will contribute towards further progress.

Communicate belief in individual’s abilities to achieve the goal.

Be specific about actions.

It may take 5 positive statements for the listener to hear 1 piece of negative or constructive feedback. Be generous with the praise and encouragement!