My first boss after college was masterful at delivering difficult feedback using the “shit sandwich” approach.
You know the format:
Step 1 – Deliver complement
Step 2 – Roll out the critical feedback
Step 3 – Mix in one more compliment
The first problem I had with this approach to management was the fact that I always walked away feeling like “the good” I’d been doing had been contrived as an excuse to hit me with the tough stuff.
Beyond that, my manager delivered free-standing positive feedback so infrequently that I became conditioned to expect negativity on the other side of anything remotely representing positivity. Is there anything surprising about my decision to eventually move on?
As a leader of people or the manager of a team, you’re expected to have difficult conversations. Employees want honesty, and they’d prefer that it be delivered in a way that isn’t obviously cushioning a blow.
Make a habit of pointing out your team doing things well today, and you won’t feel obligated to manufacture opportunities to have a necessary difficult conversation tomorrow.
PS: Here are four ways to get more BFU in your life: