When I wrote on 10 Ways to Give Constructive Criticism, I agreed with Pastor Sam Crabtree that The Sandwich Method is a Baloney Sandwich. Yesterday’s Management Tip from the Harvard Business Review agreed that this particular sandwich has passed its “eat-by date.”
When you must deliver criticism about someone’s work, it’s best to be direct rather than diplomatic. Avoid the all-too-common practice of mixing positive messages with negative ones. It’s confusing to the recipient. Steer clear of the classic feedback “sandwich,” which goes like this: good news, followed by bad news, ending with good news. Eating a sandwich with good bread — but bad meat in the middle — isn’t too enjoyable. And while giving someone feedback in a considerate, contextualized, and balanced manner is good practice, you need to be very clear on the poor performance part or your message might get lost. It is often the most important aspect of a feedback session, so don’t muddle it.
As I said before, for criticism to have any hope of accomplishing anything, it should be set in the wider context of praise. There should be praise in the bank, before we start drawing down with any criticisms. But there does not always need to be praise in the immediate context of delivering negative feedback.