Your supervisor arrives at the point in the dialogue where areas for improvement must be discussed. And your manager gives you great feedback at the start of the conversation. In fact, they say you did an excellent job with a customer demo last quarter. However, somewhere in the course of the chat, they stated that you may have done better with data presentation. However, they soon reaffirm that you’re doing an excellent job.  

If you recognize this style of feedback, you’ve been fed a feedback sandwich. This style might be pleasant when offering or receiving comments. It can effectively soften the “bad” half of the discussion with two bookended “good” pieces. With the productivity paranoia on the rise, managers are stuck between appealing to employees and appeasing the boss. 

Feedback Sandwich

The Feedback Sandwich is a three-stage process used by managers to provide feedback to employees. This strategy provides feedback by making a nice, reassuring phrase, then delivering constructive criticism and finally a compliment. This contributes to the situation remaining favourable. It may be sugar coating, but if it aids in the absorption of the medication, it serves its purpose.  

Giving constructive feedback to staff as a rookie manager can be difficult since humans, by nature, take any criticism personally – at least at first. Just like you learned to embrace criticism as a learning opportunity, you must teach your team members how to do the same. 

The management and employee benefit from the feedback sandwich in the following ways: 

Leaders acknowledge taking this strategy because they are hesitant to give harsh comments. Our workforce is varied, with people from many cultures, generations, and backgrounds. Erin Meyers outlines how the feedback sandwich can cause friction across cultures in her book The Culture Map.  

She presents an example of an American manager employing the feedback sandwich method with a French direct report, for example. It confounded and skewed both the manager and the direct report. The management suspected that the direct report was not taking the feedback seriously. Meanwhile, the employee perceived a lack of immediate, actionable feedback. It ultimately hampered their professional advancement. 

Others, on the other hand, contend that the feedback sandwich has a time and a place. Some argue that the feedback sandwich is not appropriate in every context. However, under the appropriate conditions, the feedback sandwich can make bad feedback more bearable. And it may work better in some industries than others. 

How to deal with feedback sandwich:  

With these feedback sandwich ideas, you’ll be more prepared to provide criticism as a manager or supervisor: 

Prepare yourself 

Managers must prepare feedback in conjunction with the solution and serve it jointly. Instead of comments like, “You don’t listen to customers,” explain the issue and propose solutions. “I noticed you interrupted that customer a few times,” for example. Allowing them to finish what they have to say may help you gain better knowledge to solve their problem. Thank you for doing an excellent job!” 

Make your point 

Make it clear what you want the employee to keep doing and what you want them to quit doing. Keep your attention on the point, not the person. You are providing constructive critique to the activity, not the individual. Focusing on the point usually helps to keep some defensiveness at bay. And, if the situation allows, inject some levity. Another technique to help the receiver be more open to the subject is to approach it in a lighthearted manner. You can take the bite out of criticism if you judge the behaviour. 

Provide solutions 

Avoid leaving the employee hanging for feedback sandwiches to be successful. Provide corrective, alternative behaviours to replace the faulty behaviour when providing change-related feedback. “This job can be stressful,” for example. When you become irritated with a customer, take a break from the situation to calm down. Thank you for your efforts!” 

 Own your viewpoints 

When providing feedback to your employees, use “I” statements as an assertive manager. This demonstrates that you own the input. “I think or feel X” is more powerful than “people say X about you.” If my manager told me that people say negative things about me, I’d get paranoid, and I’d rather my management own his or her feedback. 

Understand your limits 

Don’t walk on someone without authority or authorization as a manager. Just because you are the boss doesn’t mean you have to repair all of your employees’ flaws. You must understand when to provide feedback and when to refrain. 


It is difficult to provide feedback but keep these guidelines in mind and recognize that criticism is a talent that must be practised in order to grow. Even if today is your first day as a manager, you’ve worked for both good and awful managers throughout your career and know the difference. The finest managers not only provide constructive criticism, but also seek it. Feedback is a two-way street, and the best approach to encourage your staff to feel comfortable accepting feedback is to ask them how you can improve on a regular basis. 

It can be difficult to provide critical feedback. While using a compliment sandwich may be tempting, it’s critical to determine which lever you want to pull. Employee performance is dependent on trust, psychological safety, and a coaching and feedback culture.   

It’s difficult to choose the optimal method to employee feedback. However, it is equally critical to cultivate a sense of belonging and to be aware of personal feelings, culture, and other factors. Your team members are real people. And it’s not always easy to hear bad news for humans.

BTS supports a balanced environment between employees and employers. Reliable feedback is a core part of it. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *