Saturday, I was in the middle of the Czech Republic in a nice camp.

The weather was refreshing.  I had prepared a game in my training on providing effective Feedback.

Before delivering it, I did a lot of research.

As a member of public speaking club, I know how crucial is to deliver the feedback in the right way.

A lot of club members are using a famous technique called the Sandwich method.

In theory, the feedback should be balanced, start with something positive, followed by the things that you perceived can be improved and end up with something positive.

Seems like easy-pease, technique.

There is one big issue with this approach, most of the time people tend to look at it as a checklist and not as a framework to trigger a change.

The sandwich checklist

  • Did I say something positive? Checked!
  • Did I convey my point? Yeah, checked!
  • I almost forget to what positive thing I can say for the end?  How about “Keep up the good work” checked.

A bad example

How many times have we heard some harsh feedback on what we did, just to be surrounded by some positive non-sense?

Let’s look into a typical office scenario:

Lets say Karla is the supervisor of Jim. One day she goes to him and says something like “You did amazing presentation, BUT you should change that and that, and then your presentation will be better”.

We have to re-visit our feedback approach and move away from the quick fix techniques.

The correct approach is to listen and understand why the person did what they do.

  • What was their motivation?
  • Why did they follow that approach?
  • What impact that wrong approach may cost them in the future?

What advice I can give them in order to enhance their life?

Moving Forward

Asking better questions helps us to serve the purpose of the feedback, which is to leave things better than we found it.

In the example above, the usage of BUT negates everything said as positive and leaves the impression that the person is manipulative and insincere.

And the reason to do so is that Karla’s main intention was to criticize Jim’s presentation.

I believe it’s time to go out of the classroom theory and provide a common sense to the feedback we give to the people in order to be seen as authentic and not manipulative.

I was asked recently, can you use the words such as BUT/ HOWEVER and the other synonyms while delivering a feedback and the answer is YES. And I will write more about it in one of my next post.

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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  1. Rado November 30, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Please, could you give a scenario where Carla properly approaches Jim ?

  2. Aleksandar Vladimirov December 4, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Rado,

    She should had identified what really counts in Jim’s presentation, maybe he volunteer or he had good energy. There was a reason he was selected.
    Than building on top of that connecting what was lacking in the presentation and than what was something that he can take away on a positive note.

    Example:
    “I really appreciated the fact you volunteer for this presentation and I see a lot of hard work, the thing I noticed were that the presentation was lacking a clear structure and people including me were a little bit confused. For the next presentation please have a test run with the colleagues in the office to verify that everything is clear. After such feedback from your colleagues and taking into account your motivation I am sure that the next time your presentation will be spectacular :)

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