Please Stop With Your “Oreo Feedback Method” (aka The Shit Sandwich)

Yes, you heard me curse because that’s exactly what it is — shit. Somewhere along the way an HR “expert” thought it would be a grand idea to deliver a hard and potentially destructive statement to an individual by delivering it in two fluffy pieces of sugar coated passive aggression. Do you know what no one remembers? The fluffy sweet bready compliments.

They are fixated on the earth-shattering, soul-quaking statement that you just casually laid on the table. The big stinky turd. You as the supervisor planted it there and the gloss over the facial shift and slumped shoulders of your employee. Time to close this sandwich up!

Need an example? Here we go….

Lauren, we absolutely love your drive and tenacity you know how to get things done.

But along with that we have a concern that you don’t work well with others and people are having concerns about you.

So keep up the great work and keep those numbers coming in.

Yes, this conversation actually occurred in my profession career. I sat there, my mouth gaping open at the shock of the amateur delivery. This was my boss. This is what I have to model my career after? Awesome.

As I coach clients, this method has become adopted as a traditional norm, but I’m here to tell you if you’d like to keep good employees, you need to stop doing this immediately.

This doesn’t mean to stop feedback altogether. Feedback is awesome when done with trust, honesty, transparency and consistency.

Trusted feedback means that you are in a position to help without repercussions.

Honest feedback means you are kind and gentle with the facts. You don’t need to sugar coat the truth and you also don’t need to wait to have a conversation until the higher ups are sending you an email. Say what you think, but don’t be condescending or malicious.

Transparent feedback tells the employee about the potential advantages and consequences for shifts in behavior, results, etc. If that employee is at risk of getting fired, let them know, but also lay out the trail of options for you to work with them on.

Consistent feedback is key to all of this. Set up biweekly, monthly, quarterly feedback sessions. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE ANNUAL REVIEW. Make sure that you set up the expectation with your team, put it in the calendar and be clear on what’s expected from both of you on and before that date.

Oreos are meant for the break room, not the boardroom. You have the opportunity to shift the way we do business, the way we communicate and the way we operate. Keep giving feedback and challenging yourself and your team to live up to new authentic standards.

About Lauren LeMunyan, ACC, CPC, ELI-MP

Lauren LeMunyan is an executive coach and the owner of Lauren LeMunyan Coaching, LLC and The Spitfire Coach and is also the host of the web-series, Water Cooler Wednesdays. Lauren works individuals and organizations to identify their purpose, vision, mission and brand to increase life engagement, accountability, motivation, and enjoyment. Lauren is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a master practitioner of the Energy Leadership Index (ELI­-MP) and a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) (an ICF-accredited program) and graduated from Rutgers University with a major in Sociology.