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Sometimes members of your team will need feedback, not about specific outcomes but concerning their ongoing performance. You might see a certain behavior that's questionable or see a work product moving in a direction with which you don't agree. To deliver critical feedback effectively, we've covered some of the essential interpersonal characteristics that will help you. These include things like speaking to the person in private, remaining unemotional. Being very specific and striving to be helpful not just critical. These interpersonal tactics are important, but I also want you to consider the structure of your feedback.
There's a classic approach to dealing with this issue that is now being hotly debated. It's called the positive sandwich. The idea is simple. People don't naturally enjoy negative feedback and so they find it hard to receive. In response, we can make it a little easier on them, by sandwiching the negative feedback between two bits of positive feedback. According to the proponents of this approach, there are several key benefits. First, the positive sandwich makes it easier to accept critical feedback. It lessens the blow, and makes it more likely they will hear and process the information effectively.
It also builds perspective, by helping them see a bigger picture of themselves as a performer, instead of using a narrower and less informative perspective. Finally, proponents suggest that the positive sandwich approach makes sense because it's polite and civil, and as such, it's less likely to offend the feedback recipient. In the last few years, many detractors have emerged. They suggest the positive sandwich is not the best approach, and they offer several reasons. First, they suggest that when you try to bury negative feedback in between two bits of positive feedback, the critical point you really want to make becomes lost and fuzzy.
Instead of clearly in focus. According to them using this approach intentionally creates ambiguity in the message. Next they suggest that for many employees this approach will seem insulting and patronizing. The average employee can see right through this approach and will label any feedback associated with it as insincere. And somehow lacking in integrity. This approach might even leave the employee to lose respect for you since they prefer straight talk instead of smoke and mirrors. Finally the detractors have suggested that people who use this technique.
Really aren't using it to help the employee, but instead, they're using it to help themselves. They say it's just a way for the manager to ease their way into giving feedback, since it's so hard to just jump in and say something critical that needs to be said. So, who's right? Here's my perspective. The positive sandwich approach isn't horrible, and it does have some merit, but it's definitely not the best overall approach. Let me give you a better strategy. A clear minority at the time you can give mixed and balanced feedback.
But the more important the feedback is, the more you need to focus on delivering one unique message whether it's positive or negative. Focus is how you ensure no ambiguity or loss of meaning. Now, over time, it's important that you're mindful about your average, meaning how often you give positive versus critical feedback. Your average should be leaning towards positive. It's great that some people want to be nice to others and position critical feedback between bits of positive feedback but most of the time it's not the productive choice.
People need clarity. The good news is that the more you effectively deal with critical feedback in and of itself the more your team gets used to it. So eventually you won't even need the positive sandwich because sharing critical comments becomes accepted.
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