Managing People - Forget The "Sandwich" Technique

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Managing People - Forget The "Sandwich" Technique

By: Alan Fairweather

Do you remember being told to use the "sandwich" technique when you needed to reprimand someone? Let me give you an example: "Fred, I'm really pleased with how you've been progressing since you joined us and you're doing a great job. However you're not getting your reports in on time and we're missing deadlines. I'd like you to tighten up a bit on this. Anyway,thanks for all you've done so far and keep up the good work."

Have you ever said something along these lines? You probably needed Fred to sort out his reporting but you didn't want to upset or demoralise him. The only problem is that Fred may not get the message. The importance of it may be seriously diluted. He may hear it as, "Fred, you're doing a brilliant job, you just need to sort out the reporting bit but it's not really that important." What happens then is, Fred continues to fail with his reports.

The "sandwich" technique doesn't work, it lets you off the hook and it's mealy mouthed. Be direct with your people and they'll respect you more for it. You are also much more likely to get a change in behaviour. If you are unhappy with some aspect of an employee's performance then you need to tell them so. The skill is in doing it in a way that's effective and doesn't lower the morale of the individual.

Firstly, it's not acceptable to speak to your people just when you're unhappy about something. Tell them the good news as well. As Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson say in their book The One Minute Manager - "Catch people doing something right" and tell them about it.

Some managers and employers still have this daft notion that if people are doing things right then that's what they're paid for and they don't need complimented. Ask almost any employee in Industries throughout the world and they'll tell you that they don't feel appreciated by their manager.

When you notice someone doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice them doing something you don't like, tell them about it. Whether it's good news or bad, the same rules apply. Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledgement of a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don't immediately call someone's attention to something you are not happy about, then they'll assume it's okay. Either that or they'll think you didn't notice or you don't care. Do it in private. Why is it that some managers still feel it's okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale.

When you speak to the person use "I" messages. Say things like "I liked the way you did that" or "I think there is another way to do that." Avoid "You" messages such as "You're doing great." That can come across as patronising or insincere. "You're doing that all wrong" may cause conflict, lower morale and may not sort the problem.

When your giving feedback, focus on one or two things. You'll only confuse the person if you run off a whole list of attributes or misdemeanours. Be specific about job behaviour, focus on what the person did or didn't do, don't make a personal attack. Allow time for the message to sink in and allow the person to respond. You can then seek agreement as to what will happen in the future. If the person does not agree to take corrective action then you need to move to another level. When they do agree to take corrective action then make sure that you monitor it and give encouraging feedback.

Being direct with your people is better for you, better for them and better for you business, so save your "sandwiches" for lunchtime.

About The Author

Discover how you can generate more business by motivating your team! Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales by Motivating Your Team" This book is packed with practical things you can do to get the best out of your people. Click here now:


Janet H 18.05.2007. 15:18

How do you tell someone who is otherwise, intelligent and succesful, that they have the manners of a pig.? This ruins their total image and if you try to tackfully suggest something they just get mad. But eating with your jaw packed full and then talking, turning up a soup bowl and drinking out of it, holding the fork with their fist, is totally embarassing.

Janet H

Admin 18.05.2007. 15:18

Depends on who the "pig" is. If it's someone older than you (mother, father, grandma,) or in authority over you (boss, teacher etc) then your best bet is to either find someone that is their own age or equal to them status wise and have them say something.

If it is someone at your own level, try the "sandwich" technique. Start by complimenting them on how great they dress or look or what a great job they do at their work. Once they are feeling pretty good about themselves, tell them that you have noticed that OTHER people remark about their manners. Tell them that you would hate for people to judge them unfairly simply because they slurp their soup. Then end the conversation by encouraging them. Tell them you know it's probably just an oversight on their part and you know that they know how to eat properly, they just probably forgot.

If the nice thing doesn't work...go for blunt. Tell them that they look like a pig slopping at the trough and that people around them notice. Nobody likes to eat with sloppy people. I once had a dinner guest that somehow managed to get sauce all over my kitchen walls because of horrible manners. They were never invited over again.
Buy them a book on table manners and give it to them annonymously.
If they refuse to change, then tell them that you won't go out in public with them to eat.

Listen, they can't be ALL that intelligent OR successful if they have such bad manners. Intelligent people are able to take correction and learn from it. Ignorant ones are the ones that refuse to see their own shortfalls.


MrWonderer 25.04.2009. 20:31

Why all of a sudden I forget everything? I am 28! Stress, learning another language? What is it!? I mean i really came here to ask another question and I forgot, and am really fed up with it now! I used to get some phopadyl serine and that would make it so much better! But I also heard that is for old people!


Admin 25.04.2009. 20:31

I've had similar problems due to stress. I'd spent a year learning German & whilst I was abroad I managed conversations in German OK. Then as soon as I got back to the UK I simply forgot all I'd learnt! I've learnt to see it as some sort of black hole in the memory, or to view the mind as some sort of membrane & the more you stretch it the more holes appear.
For most things I've developed memory techniques, so that I have to stop & think out a way of remembering the right thing at the right time. So for example if I need to remember to talk to a particular person about something, I think of that person's face & the thing I need to say. Then I may forget, but as soon as I see that person's face the memory will come back.
OK, memory loss is associated with old people, but it's also associated with high-flying academics. You know the sort of parody - the brilliant professor who turns up to teach still wearing his pyjamas. It's true! Also, memory failure is associated with stress.
Mostly, the cure is to organise things. Your memory can cope with about 7 items (unlike a computer which copes with 2 - either on or off switches). Think of these like 7 tennis balls on a dinnerplate. One of these will always be the centre of attention, i.e. the thing you are dealing with now. If something else drops in place, one of those 7 balls will be displaced. Some big stuff (like the lecture I was going to give on memory, or unresolved situations, trauma, other people's behaviour etc)) may take up enough space to displace 2 or 3 or more of those balls, so lots of stuff gets displaced. The trick is to reduce the size of those bits so that you have 7 functional spaces & not 5 or 3. The unresolved stuff needs resolution or storing somewhere safe like on a post-it note you'll look at later, The big stuff needs reducing. So the lecture has to be organised. Every memory has up to 7 sub sets or headings & each of those has up to 7 sub-sets etc. ad infinitum. So you link from the general to the detailed through subsetting. By doing this I don't need to worry about how my memory will reproduce the information I'm giving you on organising memory, it just comes. But I need also to find a path out of the detail back to the main menu, so either I remember the main heading - memory, or I can just look at your question again.
So the secret is to organise, reduce, deal with unresolved stuff & plan reminders.
Personally, I avoid chemical stuff. It scares me & I'm not confident that it might not do long term damage in other areas. Exercise works better as it produces serotonin in the brain & that's one of the synapse chemicals which your brain needs to work. Without this you get depression & memory loss, which is why so many antidepressants are SSRIs. They produce good mood by making serotonin hang about longer. What has worked for me has been the right food. A couple of times a week I eat brawn which is basically a ham loaf, but also contains bits of brain. This seems to deplete exhausted brain chemistry better than anything else & apart from being delicious (in an omelette or as a sandwich with mayonnaise is brill) it's also perfectly natural so there's no worry about side effects or long term damage.
So there are ways forward which don't mean developing "absent-minded professor syndrome", but you'll have to do a bit of organising to use them.


carmenclassof06 15.01.2009. 04:45

Need help with story?!?! 10pts best answer!!!? What do you think about the entirety of the following scene? Is there anything I should add/take out so that it reads better? What do you think of the sentence structure?

"Just so I'm sure you're quitting?"

Peyton leaned forward and rested her head in her hands. Horrible news for her staff to hear she was sure.

"Okay. I?m fine with that. I'm sure you'll find success with another label."

Without hesitation she punched off the speaker and stood to rid herself of the tension that had formed between her shoulders and her neck, only to be met by the eyes of her colleagues, who stood in the door way.

Of course they all they all thought the band was great and it was evident on their faces what they thought of her saying nothing to persuade them to stay on the label. Moving swiftly she closed the door on them. She was the boss.

She was upset by the bands choice to depart from the label too, though she couldn?t say that she didn?t see it coming one way or the other. As talented as the band was, managing them had proven to be a difficult task. She wouldn?t work with anyone who didn?t want to cooperate or at least try to comprise with her. Her decision to allow them to leave had been a justified one. They were tired of her, and she was equally tired of them.

And literally, today she was tired. She had been feeling restless and irritable from almost the moment she had left the house and to top it off she was hungry, but her morning sickness left her unable to keep anything down for longer than ten minutes. Despite her personal torment she was vaguely aware of all the people who still demanded her attention. She could eat and rest later.

The hours progressed, and she knew she could no longer push off the inevitable. She had to eat something even if was just a sandwich, after all she was eating for two now. Picking up her phone she called David.

He hadn?t specifically said that he had to do anything today- so maybe he could get away, she thought. It had been a while since David had last been to her office, and it would be nice for them to spend some time together. Plus he had been reading up on pregnancy and nutrition. He'd suggest something proper for her to eat.

No answer. The call went straight to voice mail. She tried again. Same result.

She cursed herself for forgetting to pack a lunch.


Admin 15.01.2009. 04:45

I'm not sure if this is a complete sentence: Horrible news for her staff to hear she was sure.

Door way should be doorway.

There should be a comma after the and in this sentence: Of course they all they all thought the band was great and it was evident on their faces what they thought of her saying nothing to persuade them to stay on the label. Hope I helped...good luck! :)

There should be a comma after plus in this sentence: Plus he had been reading up on pregnancy and nutrition.

Overall I liked it, and other than a few easy-to-make mistakes here and there, it was nice. It seems very interesting and also 10 out of 10 for your descriptive techniques.


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