The Feedback Sandwich Has No Bread

Karl Bimshas
3 min readSep 21, 2022
The Feedback Sandwich Has No Bread by Karl Bimshas

Have you ever had a taste of the feedback sandwich? For some, it’s a sacred cow, but it’s time to put it out to pasture.

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It’s a simple formula designed to help struggling or ineffective managers communicate their displeasure with performance without risking an embarrassing employee walkout.

You’ve seen it.

Start with positive, constructive feedback, share the negative news, and then close the conversation with another positive remark on performance.

Nice and tidy.

Pats on the head and a “go get ’em champ” shove out the door are optional.

Does this really work?

Nope. Rarely.

75% of the time, it feels more like manipulation, not effective management, and 90% of the time, it’s patronizing.

Generally speaking, many people don’t get adequate feedback from their managers to begin with. It’s either non-existent, paltry or so laden with unnecessary garnish that it’s essentially indigestible, i.e., useless.

What could you do instead?

  1. Remain positive if you can genuinely be positive. (Side note, if you find you can’t be genuinely optimistic, leadership may not be the right role for you.)
  2. Be clear (The recipient gets to decide what clear means.)
  3. Be direct. Don’t beat around the bush; no one needs the extra build-up or the subtle hints. Get to the point.
  4. Be encouraging. If you don’t believe in them, how successfully do you think you’ll be able to convince them to believe in themselves?

Give this approach a taste, and let me know your results.

When Bullies Flex

When bullies congratulate themselves, be it on the playground, in the workplace, or over the airwaves, it is neither “masculine energy” nor a projection of strength, and it most assuredly is not leadership.

Their smugness and cowardly adoring fans betray their unifying weakness, a genuine fear of losing control, and a compulsion to self-soothe.

Their reliance on intimidation, threats, rumors, lies and insults to test their power confirms their inability to function as adults in the modern era.

Ignoring it, walking away, or wishing for a different outcome is not effective. The neutralizing agent to brutish behavior is clear, direct, responsible leadership.

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Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.