You know that giving feedback is essential to your employees’ ability to perform well, but you’re not always sure about how to best go about it.
The “praise sandwich” – where a manager begins feedback with a dose of praise, then offers the criticism, only to end with another layer of praise – has been much maligned as leading to weak management, among other criticisms.
Unfortunately, some managers have turned to giving purely negative feedback, to the exclusion of positive, in order not to seem “weak.” But this approach weakens the employee-manager relationship itself, hardly the desired outcome.
What to do? Don’t worry so much about the “sandwich,” focus instead on the ratio of positive to negative comments.
University of Washington psychologist John Gottman has noted in his study of long-term relationships, that in the most successful ones the ratio of positive to negative interactions is 5:1 – even in the midst of a conflict.
That 5:1 ratio has been observed by countless others. It’s an excellent guideline.
Beyond that, put into practice Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s findings: that praising persistent efforts, even in situations where the employee has failed, helps build resilience and determination, while praising talent and ability results in risk-aversion and heightened sensitivity to setbacks.