When my career got started the sandwich approach to employee feedback was the go-to. I personally thrived on it and have always enjoyed getting constructive feedback. But when done wrong, the sandwich feedback approach can be detrimental to a team member’s confidence and can feel more like personal attacks. Unfortunately, more often than not it is done wrong. After researching the best methodology for employee feedback it has become clear that a magical system or process does not exist. The reality is that there is no right answer, but there is an endless supply of wrong answers.
Every Organization’s Employee Feedback Is Different
There is no one size fits all approach to employee feedback because every organization is so unique. You have your own culture, recruitment strategy, growth strategy, leadership etc. The best thing to do is to look at the aspects of employee feedback that are important to you and your team. That could mean a different employee feedback approach across geographies, departments, teams, and subsidiaries. Then you have to consider the many types of feedback like one-on-ones, surveys, reviews, etc. Here are some things to consider when evaluating the best way to deliver employee feedback.
Remote Allows For Many Channels
One of the benefits of being remote is flexibility. This flexibility usually creates an environment for innovation. When your team is remote you are open to new channels and forms of communication. Use this flexibility to create a unique approach to feedback. It is not even possible to go sit in an office when delivering feedback so take the opportunity to deliver it in a unique way to matches your culture.
Ditch The Sandwich
This is top of mind for me because I am so familiar with it. The sandwich approach to feedback has not faired well over the years. Although it can be effective it generally leads to disingenuous feedback and unnecessary tension.
Make It Routine
Don’t wait for the next quarterly meeting to provide feedback. Make it a daily or weekly occurrence. Build it into your culture and into your day. This means not waiting to book a meeting or have a zoom call. Positive feedback can be shared any time via an endless number of communication channels.
Keep It Private
Feedback should be given directly to the individuals or groups of individuals involved. Keeping it private helps participants feel safe and share true insights and responses.
Nobody Is Looking For Advice
Feedback can be a great opportunity for both participants to reflect. If someone comes to you for advice or ideas on how to do things that is great. But if you are working with another individual to reflect and improve on both successes and failures there needs to be more than just advice, there needs to be dialogue.
Make It A Conversation Not A Lecture
Approaching feedback in a meaningful and genuine way allows participants to drop their guards and listen to what you have to say. Making feedback a one-sided lecture on how things should be done does not create an environment for open dialogue.
Understand What Each Individual Can Handle
Each person is different and wants to receive feedback differently. Think about how each individual communicates and what their tolerance is for constructive feedback. Your approach should be adjusted so that it will actually be received.
The number and complexity of things that you cover in any conversation will impact the next steps. Feedback is no different. Focus on one or two topics, this allows the participants to follow the conversation up with action items and results.
Should Be Constructive Not Critical
Not all feedback has to be about making things better. You can simply provide positive feedback after a win. If you have an employee that does need to make improvements then make the feedback constructive. Approach the conversation with honest insights into things that can improve that are relevant to the job. Delivering emotional or personal criticisms will not drive change or improvements. It will simply sour your relationship and hamper personal growth.
Save The Constructive Feedback For One On Ones
If you have a culture of open dialogue then everything becomes a conversation. Feedback is no longer an event, it is simply part of the conversation and provides insight into how to continuously improve. If you have feedback that could affect an individual’s position in the organization then you will want to have a focused conversation without any distractions. Preferably over video so that you can gauge reactions.
Be A Human
I take every opportunity to revisit The Golden Rule. As a human, you want to be treated with dignity and respect. Think about that before you provide feedback to another human who likely has very similar needs and insecurities.
Make It Less Formal
In researching this blog I came across many articles referring to managers calling employees into their office. Obviously, that is not necessarily a thing on a remote team, but the idea of setting up a formal feedback session creates anxiety for employees. When feedback is a consistent and ongoing conversation barriers are dropped, ideas are heard, and improvements are made.
Follow Up On Feedback
Expecting someone to listen to you then implement something is not all that realistic. Think of the last time someone with authority told you something and you then just executed it to perfection without any help. Growth and improvement are ongoing processes that use insights from past experiences and new insights to deliver results. Having the ability to learn and improve on experiences both good and bad is powerful. Harnessing that power at your organization will give you an enormous edge.
I’m certain that you can come up with many other things to consider that are unique to your organization. The biggest takeaway is to build feedback into your culture and make it part of the conversation. The more consistent and fluid your feedback process the more likely it will impact the success of the individual and organization moving forward.
Employees that work across an organization don’t have the same opportunity to get to know each other in the hallways, the water cooler, or around meetings. These opportunities to build meaningful professional relationships directly impact the way employees work together and communicate. ChatFox increases employee engagement by building more meaningful relationships across your organization, department, and team. Conversations are started using Virtual Coffees, Icebreakers, ShoutOuts, Feedback, and Birthdays. ChatFox provides customizable chat cadences, custom Icebreaker questions, and custom ShoutOut skills within Slack to reinforce your organization’s values.
https://hbr.org/2013/04/the-sandwich-approach-undermincompany cultureEmployee engagementEmployee Feedbackremote working