the “feedback sandwich” to make the pill pass

“Hey, did you go to the hairdresser this weekend? It suits you really well! But hey, I didn’t come to see you for that: unless I’m mistaken, you fell behind on what you were supposed to do last week. More generally, I have the impression that you don’t give much of yourself to your work lately, in any case I expect more from you. But I know you can do it! » What can we learn from this comment made by a manager to his employee on a Monday morning? A certain awkwardness, certainly.

However, this superior applied to the letter what he thought was a magic recipe: the “feedback sandwich”. As the “feedback” literally feeds the employee with comments on his performance, here the metaphor is concrete: the feedback begins with a compliment (a slice of bread), followed by a negative criticism (the topping), itself followed of a new compliment (the other tranche).

This legendary method – the origin of which is not dated – aims to facilitate the reception of negative criticism by putting them into perspective. It is therefore a cover-up to avoid conflicts: faced with a leader who lacks tact, anger, sadness or demotivation will rear their heads.

If it wants to be coherent and digestible, the sandwich had better focus exclusively on the same subject: “The pitch you sent to clients was very powerful, it was full of spelling mistakes BUT we have excellent financial returns, so keep it up – watch out for typos next time [accompagné d’un clin d’œil et d’un sourire] ! »

The double-edged criticism

Criticism is constructive and thus only concerns the work that has been done, and not the person. There innovation mission of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance offers its hamburger recipe: “For example, the steak can be: what X could have avoided, the salad: what X could have done better, and the cheese: what X could have improved. » It is rather done in private than in public, and is accompanied by concrete recommendations on what could be done better… based on existing strengths. Like a teacher trying to encourage a stagnant student around the average.

The generalization of this practice is double-edged: if a leader always practices this plan in three parts – small thesis, big antithesis, small thesis – how can we trust his compliments? How can we not ask him to move on from the hors d’oeuvres to directly attack the invigorating main course? The bread then appears as a hypocritical pretext to reveal a vile topping, undoubtedly inspired by the highest burger in the world (1.88 meters), made in Auderghem (Belgium) in 2023.

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