Sandwich Feedback

Sandwich Technique is a tool managers use when they have to deliver unpleasant news, resolve a conflict, address a troubling situation or make a constructive complaint.

It’s easy and effective. Compliments and positive statements “sandwich” each side of the unpleasant news, thus making it easier to digest.

The sandwich feedback technique enables a manager to restructure feedback so it is easier to deliver. The technique also reinforces good behaviour and asks for improvements.

Used in Anglo Saxon cultures. Consists of 3 elements:

  1. Appreciate the person
  2. Challenge the behaviour
  3. Support constructive change



Suppose that Andy, a new employee at a financial services company, attended a week-long, offsite training program in New York. Each night during his stay at a hotel, Andy purchased on-demand movies in his room. He included the corresponding $65 charge in his expense report. Andy also dined at very expensive restaurants. Jean, Andy’s manager, received the expense report for approval. Clearly, the charge for the movies had no business-justification. Jean uses the sandwich feedback technique to decline reimbursement for this expense and instruct Andy to be more prudent about expenses when traveling


Praise: “Andy, I am impressed with your development since you joined my team last month. You have used the skills you learned during your training in New York to systematically review our customer’s accounts.”

Criticism: “By the way, earlier this morning, I was reviewing the expense report from your trip to New York. I notice a $65 charge for on-demand movies. I have to deny this expense since it has no business-justification. I also noticed very expensive meals. I will approve these charges this time. Given our limited travel budgets, I would ask you to be more careful about your trip expenses. You are probably not aware of our company’s travel policy. I have asked Human Resources to give you a copy of our travel policy booklet that details the acceptable expense report practices.”

Praise: “I am glad you were able to use the skills you learned at this training in New York. I appreciate your hard work and persistence with this customer. Keep up the good work.”

What can go wrong?

  • Example: “Your conference website looks marvellous and well-designed. However, you made an error when writing my name on the keynote page, and I expect this to be fixed ASAP! Anyways, I look forward to your event, which will surely be very inspiring.”
  • Mixed signals, not sincere
  • Consider culture – high power vs low power, direct communication and indirect communication