Feedback sandwich – nourishment for your learning and growth

Feedback sandwichHigh performance coaching and mentoring is a regular and continuous process. It is something that the leader does every day. The most effective means of raising performance with team members is small step, incremental feedback based coaching, using the feedback sandwich.

Using the feedback sandwich

The Feedback Sandwich is the most effective tool a coach or leader can use to gain incremental improvements in performance.

Using the feeling of personal motivation and the power of the unconscious mind, a well-structured, fluent feedback sandwich can be delivered in a matter of seconds. The embedded performance improvement is accepted by the other person’s unconscious. It is possible that they have no conscious knowledge of the required improvement, but they will act on it.

Use this once a week to gain 50 or more small performance improvement a year.

ALWAYS prepare the sandwich BEFORE delivery.

Once you get the hang of this, use it very regularly.

How to prepare your feedback sandwich
Deliberately observe your staff in the normal working environment. Keep notes (a journal really helps – one page or section for each staff member). Make a note of specific things they are doing well. Whilst observing, make a note of what they are doing well overall within their job, position, daily exchanges and activities.
For each sandwich, you want one (that is “1”, “ONE”, singular) specific action or behaviour that would improve their performance in the job.
It will be very beneficial to know what is important for each member of staff. Make no assumptions… ask them.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask them what they did at the weekend (or their time off work). Usually, not always, but usually, people do things in their time off that truly matter to them. Some will tell you what they did in chronological order, most will tell you the most important thing first. Make notes (later) of the specific words they used. For example:
  • “I went shopping with my family” is not the same as  “I went shopping with the wife and kids”.
In the first, the important word is “family”. To the second the word “family” may link, in their mind, to their entire family who are not really that important. “Wife and kids” might mean “family” to you, but to them it's a different thing and has a different importance in their life… a different value. In these same examples, you might ask “do you enjoy shopping?” then you could find out if they do or they do so because of obligation, promise or whatever… you've just found out that ‘obligation, promise or whatever' is important to them.
  • Do this every week – it will help you understand what is truly most important for these staff, and make them realise that you genuinely care about them.
  • Keep a note of the values and the specific words – these make powerful garnish for your sandwich!
So now you have a list of specific things they have done well, specific improvements and words that symbolise what is important for them in their life.
  • Now we can make the sandwich.
The format is this:
3 specific things you have done well, AND one thing to improve AND overall what you have done well. Use one or more of their own value words (“family” or “wife and Kids” within the sentence.)
Why it works
When someone tells you specific things you have done well, you know at least two things:
  1. This person (boss, coach, parent) cares for me and,
  2. that you have taken the time to observe what they do well.
At this point, receiving this feedback is positively motivating – especially when including suitable words that symbolise personal value.
Your motivation begins to drop by the third thing done well because you are anticipating the “but”.
You, though, do not use the word “but”, you use the word “and”. (The word “but” emphasises the words after it and you do not want that.)
Now, you fluently go straight into the one thing to improve AND, fluently, go straight into the overall you are doing well.
At this point you have delivered the sandwich and STOP TALKING.
No extras.
No additional improvements.
No final “but”. STOP TALKING.
Now wait. They may ask for clarification, in which case, give any further specific evidence.
If they don't thank you. Thank them. Move on.
Trust this process. It works.
Use this template to prepare your feedback sandwich.