Every once in a while history repeats itself. Those who fail to learn from it are doomed to repeat it. This post is in the spirit of that truism. Today I heard about someone receiving the infamous “but” sandwich form of feedback. Given that, I can’t help but post some thoughts I shared way back in January 08. I’m also posting it for the benefit of the thousands of new folks who read this blog nowadays versus the 11 or so who read it back then (and I know you guys are too busy/lazy to go find this in the archives…). So here’s a good wayback post that is just as true today as it was back then.
A really cool thing happened today – I had a referral come to this blog from a prestigious newspaper’s website forum on career and management styles. At first I was like “Wow! I’ve been noticed by a leading periodical.” Then I read the content of one of the posts on the site and lost my mind. No – the post wasn’t something bad about me or my blog. It was offering advice that made me cringe as a professional manager.
The advice was about how to give critical feedback to your team members. It suggested:
“Use the ‘sandwich technique.’ When delivering a critique, it’s important to censure the behavior, not the individual. One of the easiest ways to encourage receptivity is to preface your criticism with a positive statement about the person’s job performance or character. Once you’ve fortified his ego, deliver the bad news. Ensure that he received the message, and knows how to correct the situation. Then close the conversation with an affirmation.”
Pardon me. I just had an embolism.