Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the good in a person and to, instead, zero in on the things that annoy us. To ensure we acknowledge the positive things about the coachee, it’s helpful to remember the happy sandwich. The happy sandwich is a process of starting with saying something positive, discussing areas that need improvement and concluding with something positive.
I call it the happy sandwich because it’s likely that you will remember it.
I’ve observed countless coaching sessions and have seen busy managers take the feedback shortcut. The feedback shortcut is when a coach goes straight to the things the direct report is doing wrong or otherwise creates an intimidating feedback session. As an observer, it’s like watching someone swinging a bat at a trapped piñata. I’m guessing that’s how coachee feels.
If we want buy-in from the person, it’s better to show respect and provide positive feedback as well as the not-so-positive feedback. Buy-in is the difference between success and failure of the coaching session. It’s also the difference between compliance and commitment. Compliance is doing the minimum to get the job done. Commitment is going above-and-beyond the minimum because they believe in you.
When you praise them for the good things they do, they feel respected and are more willing to commit to their success. Have you ever had a boss you wanted to please? Did you have a supervisor that you wanted to be sure you never disappointed?
That’s the kind of boss you want to be.
The recipient of feedback doesn’t want to feel beat up by your words. Rather, the goal should be to let the coachee know “I see you” which means you see the positive things as well as the areas for improvement.
If you use the Happy Sandwich approach you will never drop the ball on showing respect to your direct reports.