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Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

Hello Lifelong Learner ...

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #9: It's time to stop using the 'Praise Sandwich' (sometimes referred to as the ‘Feedback Sandwich'). This approach is a very unproductive way of delivering constructive feedback and ends up creating more confusion than clarity.

A Praise/Feedback sandwich is a three-part sequence of delivering feedback — compliment/critique/compliment; the criticism is wedged between a couple of compliments like the sandwich fixin's between two pieces of bread (hence the 'sandwich'). The challenge with this approach is that it gives the employee a false sense of how they're doing. In essence, they've just received two positives compliment statements and one constructive/negative one so they may interpret that to mean that they're doing pretty well. In addition, people have a tendency to focus on the last thing they hear which, in the case of a Praise/Feedback Sandwich, is a positive comment rather than the constructive feedback you really need them to understand and respond to. The actual point of having the conversation in the first place is buried in the middle of the 'sandwich.' Constructive feedback is only effective if the employee understands that they’re receiving constructive feedback!

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Step: This week (starting today), stop using the 'sandwich' approach and adopt this three-step method instead:

  • Give them SPECIFIC feedback on what they did (the behavior, attitude or action) and the impact it had on others (the customer or peers).
  • Let the specific feedback sink in that this is about a behavior and NOT about them as a person.
  • Engage the employee in the discussion to find possible options to resolve the issue (e.g., “Now that you can see how this issue is impacting our customers, what do you need to do differently to overcome this obstacle?”)

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer


"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." — Bill Gates 


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