Feedback Wraps – Ideal for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Feedback it’s the breakfast (lunch and dinner) of champions

It’s not always easy to successfully deliver (or hear) constructive feedback.
I recently participated in a conversation w Happy Melly where we explored a very effective way to frame effective feedback (video below).

Avoid the criticism sandwich when giving feedbackDon’t give a praise sandwich…

Mary Kay Ash gets credit for the approach: “Sandwich every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise.” Fries apparently are optional.

This is just not a good idea. Not only does it taste like crap, it’s really not effective.

…Try the feedback wrap instead

Don’t give a praise tastes like shit Click To Tweet

In his awesome M3.0 approach, Jurgen Appelo offers up a much better recipe, the Feedback Wrap. Here’s how Jurgen’s wrap works:

  1. Provide/describe context
  2. Offer your version of facts / observations
    • Free of judgments, labels, diagnoses, opinions, etc.
    • When giving feedback say “Here’s what is working…” and “What needs work…” (instead of this is good and this is bad)
    • Be direct, timely and specific – Avoid “Six months ago, I don’t remember all the details, but…”
  3. Express your emotions/feelings (yep, you might need to express a bit of vulnerability)
    • It’s not about being nice, or sugar coating,
    • Don’t stifle any intensity
    • Reveal the impact the person’s behavior had on you
  4. Explore needs, values, express empathy
    • What I hope to get…
    • What I need…
    • What does the recipient need? (And then actively listen.)
  5. Offer suggestions, make requests and explore options together
    • Create connection and understanding
    • Find out what you can do to help
During our HM discussion, Andrea Darabos contributed a wonderful adaptation to preparing the dish:
  • Do a warm up using spatial implementation.
    • Write down your thoughts and words.
    • Put them on the floor (index cards perhaps) and walk around talking it thru.
    • If you can wrangle a tester to listen in and provide objective feedback your dish will likely be received even better.

Real world tested

Since learning about the method, I have used it regularly with excellent results. What I’ve particularly found helpful is to draft my thoughts out in advance, and then deliver them in person. Not following the “Script” so much, but improvising with a general idea of what I feel I need to say.

On the receiving side of feedback?

Sometime (not often as I’d like) I get feedback. About my approach. Someone notices gaps between “where I am“ to “even better.”
If the feedback comes between two slices of praise:
  • First I strive to push down my emotions
  • Then I do my best to simply model the wrap, using the context/facts/emotions/needs/suggestions model

I’m a work in progress… as my spouse will surely tell you if asked.

Closing the Gap

It’s been my experience that there are three reasons for a gap between expectations and performance:

  1. Communication – An individual does not know what is expected. The feedback wrap helps close that gap.
  2. Skills – An individual does not yet have the capabilities or tools to perform. That’s a training issue. (See Six Steps Towards a Learning Organization.)
  3. Role – An individual is not a good fit for the position. Change the role or change the person.


Here’s our HM Feedback Wrap discussion

Oct 28, 2015: Jurgen Appelo and Andrea Darabos cover the topic of employee feedback. Learn how to deliver feedback in a constructive and positive way, even when the feedback you have to give is negative.

I'm a work in progress... as my spouse will surely tell you if asked. Click To Tweet

Want more?

Below are resources/background that were shared by other participants in the call, along with a few more:
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