Feedback: Ditching the Feedback Sandwich Model

Jul 8, 2024 | Performance Management

According to Gallup, 80% of employees who receive meaningful feedback are fully engaged. The key word here is “meaningful.” We need to move away from seeing feedback as a daunting task and start viewing it as a powerful tool for empowerment. Meaningful feedback drives engagement, fosters a sense of value, and provides clarity for everyone on the team.


Ditch the Feedback Sandwich


Traditionally, many have relied on the “feedback sandwich” approach, where constructive feedback is sandwiched between layers of positive comments. While well-intentioned, this method often dilutes the impact of the feedback and can lead to confusion or inaction. In today’s labour market, leaders often hesitate to engage in tough conversations, fearing that employees might walk away. However, avoiding these crucial discussions can harm organizational culture and performance more than addressing issues directly. Effective feedback, both positive and constructive, ensures clarity, receptiveness, and improvement in performance.


Constructive Feedback: Six Steps for Success


The following six-step process will help leaders deliver feedback that is both impactful and actionable.


  1. Prepare Them for the Conversation:
  • Objective: Ensure the individual knows the purpose of the discussion in advance.
  • Benefit: Minimizes surprise and defensiveness, creating a more open and receptive environment.


  1. Base Feedback on Observations:
  • Objective: Provide feedback based on factual observations, not hearsay.
  • Benefit: Grounds the conversation in reality and credibility, making it easier for the recipient to accept and act upon.


  1. Describe the Impact:
  • Objective: Connect behaviours to outcomes by explaining their impact.
  • Benefit: Relates feedback to core values, job competencies, and the company’s mission and vision, making it more meaningful.


  1. Listen Actively:
  • Objective: Encourage the individual to share their perspective.
  • Benefit: Fosters understanding and may reveal insights that the leader was unaware of, creating a more comprehensive view of the situation.


  1. Empower Solutions:
  • Objective: Let them brainstorm and propose solutions.
  • Benefit: Promotes ownership of their career development and problem-solving skills, leading to more sustainable improvement.


  1. Follow Up:
  • Objective: Regularly check in to offer support and ensure progress.
  • Benefit: Ongoing guidance helps reinforce positive changes and ensures sustained improvement.


Positive Feedback: Three Steps to Reinforce Excellence


The following three-step process will help leaders enhance the effectiveness of their positive reinforcement and feedback.


  1. Provide Clear Observations:
  • Objective: Highlight specific behaviours you want to see repeated.
  • Benefit: Clarity helps reinforce desirable actions, making it clear what the individual should continue doing.


  1. Describe the Impact:
  • Objective: Explain the positive effects of their actions.
  • Benefit: People are motivated by feeling valued and knowing their contributions matter, which increases engagement and satisfaction.


  1. Express Gratitude:
  • Objective: A simple thank you goes a long way.
  • Benefit: Expressing gratitude for good performance makes people feel valued, respected, and appreciated. Despite the ease of providing positive feedback, it is often overlooked. Recognizing and thanking individuals for their efforts reinforces positive behaviours and enhances motivation.


In today’s challenging labour market, effective feedback from leaders is more important than ever. By rethinking traditional methods and adopting the structured approaches outlined above, leaders can ensure their feedback is meaningful, actionable, and ultimately beneficial for both the individual and the organization. With these strategies, feedback becomes a powerful tool for fostering a culture of continuous improvement and engagement, driving both personal and organizational success.



Upskill Consulting Inc. can help!



Upskill Consulting can help. Our feedback training is our most sought after training to date! Equip your leaders with the tools they need to deliver impactful feedback. Check out our Power Skills courses to learn more about how we can support your organization. Learn more: (


Sofia Arisheh

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