The sh*t sandwich method leaders use and should stop, use this instead.

If you are like most leaders you are making your way in to work today and there is someone on your team that you need to give some hard feedback to at this very moment.  The chances are you have been delaying it for days at least, probably months, and some of you have been delaying it for years.

Why haven’t you done it yet?  There are a lot of reasons, maybe one of these are yours.

  • Because you are fearful of how they might respond.
  • You don’t want to hurt their feelings.
  • You just never do the hard things.
  • You are afraid that they will quit.
  • You keep telling yourself it really isn’t a big deal, but it keeps happening.
  • You say that they do so many other things well.
  • You are about to get promoted or quit so you are passing the buck.
  • You are waiting for it to resolve itself. (it won’t)
  • You don’t know how.

I am sure there are other reasons as well, but from my experience these are usually the reasons.

If you don’t know how, I am going to give you a process that you can apply today that will make this easy.  Now, unfortunately, courage doesn’t come with the process.  However, if you practice the process enough, overtime you will gain more courage because it will get easier and you will become more comfortable at doing it.

As the title states. A lot of leaders have been taught the shit sandwich approach.  I am not saying it is a horrible process, but it doesn’t always feel right.  This is where you give them some praise for something that they have done.  Then you tell them something that you want them to work on (feedback), and then you give them some more praise on something that they do. From my experience, this process can sometimes water down the feedback you are trying to provide.  I am not saying leaders should stop this altogether, I would just use caution when applying it especially with some of the bigger issues.

Now keep in mind, I don’t want you to only use the process below when you are giving what could be viewed as negative feedback only. You should also use this process, and do it quite frequently, to provide good feedback as well.

I have used this process and others for many years with great results. You can apply it to a subordinate, a peer, a child, etc.  This process has been credited to the Center for Creative Leadership, but everyone has their own spin on it.  You can see the framework below, but I would encourage you to modify it to make it work for you.

The process goes like this:  You want to tell the person about a situation that you recently witnessed that they did something.  I will give you an example here in a minute.  So you remind them of the recent situation.  You then tell them the behavior that you witnessed.  And then lastly, the impact that the behavior had on that situation.  Lastly, ask them their thought on the situation and then ask “what would we do differently the next time we are in that situation.

  • Situation
  • Behavior
  • Impact it has/had
  • What will you do differently next time.

Here is an example:

“Joe in our last meeting I noticed that when Joan was talking you cut her off several times, not allowing her to finish her thoughts on the project. (situation) By cutting her off (behavior) it doesn’t allow her to make her contribution to the project and we want everyones buy in on this project(impact). Did you realize you were doing that Joe?”  Joe responds. “In future meetings lets be sure we get everyones contribution to this project.

Maybe it is something a little more simple as showing up on time.

“Frank I have noticed that about every few days or so you have been coming in later and later to the office. Being late doesn’t allow you to plan accordingly for your day.  This impacts your productivity as well as the teams productivity. ”  I would then ask if something is going on that is causing this.  And then move to resolving the issue and discussing the consequences if this behavior continues.

Look, giving hard feedback is never easy, by using a process it will allow you to give it to them the way they need to hear it.

Apply this process today and let me know how it works for you.

To your success and your future.

 

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