In my corporate program, Coaching for High Performance, I emphasize the importance of getting rid of the “feedback sandwich” and sticking to the 4-1 rule. For those of you who have never used or been given a feedback sandwich, it sounds something like this:
“Lindley, I really like how you write a blog every week on Monday morning” (overall positive statement as the outer ‘bread’ of the sandwich).
“What would be great is if you wrote those blog posts more about women’s issues” (the not so positive inner ‘meat’ of the sandwich).
“It is nice to see that you remain active writing your thoughts” (the other ‘bread’ piece that is positive and ends the sandwich).
Now, here is what I would rather have someone say to me:
“What are your thoughts on writing more about women’s issues?”
That is the feedback they have for me. They want to hear more about women’s stuff. And by asking, “what are your thoughts…”, I’m allowed to freely give my thoughts on that subject without feeling as if I need to be on the defensive.
Let’s look at another example:
“Raymond, you did a really great job setting table 16 in the restaurant. Table 15 gave me two complaints about your service. Their drinks took over 20 minutes to arrive and you forgot their dessert order. Overall, I think you are doing much better than you were last week.”
What sticks out in your mind? Was it how great Raymond set the table or was it his improvement from last week? Or was it the fact that he screwed up twice?
Feedback sandwiches don’t work. Stop using them!
Try this instead:
“Raymond, tell me more about the 20 minute delay on the drinks and the dessert order for table 15”.
Seek information, not blame. Seek understanding, not condemnation. Seek clarity, not hostility. And above all, come from a place of curiosity not a place of judgment.
The next step?
- After you seek to understand, focus on the behavior not the person.
- Then turn your attention to the outcome achieved versus the standard that is expected.
- Be sure to set a SPECIFIC time to follow up on this standard (and only this standard) in less than a week’s time.
- Then notice the behavior over that week and follow up.
You may have the same conversation again. You may be having a different conversation about the improvements. Either way, it’s focused feedback on the behavior and the standard.
This forms the 1 of the 4-1 rule. Praise your employees four times as much as you correct their behavior. So, if this was your ‘corrective’ feedback conversation during a given week, you would have focused on finding 4 other things to praise Raymond about. And you would have delivered that praise without any other “meat”.
Keep the sandwiches to makan time.