Friday, April 4, 2008



The article addresses the problems involved while giving and receiving feedback. It briefly defined and explained the types of feedback and its importance. It has taken a few examples by way of case studies to teach the right methodology of giving feedback. It has focused on the sandwich method of feedback. At the end it concluded that it is essential for all to take feedback for all-round growth and prosperity.


What is feedback? Stages of Feedback, Types of Feedback, Importance, Case Study of Varun, Pooja and Interview, Tips While Giving and Receiving Feedback & Conclusion.


“Feedback can be defined as the tool that projects and presents the information which highlights if there are any gaps between the intentions and the actions with in the individual as well as if there is any gap between the expectations and aspirations of the receiver (employer) and the giver (employee) in achieving the goals and objectives of the organization”, Prof.M.S.Rao.


While providing the feedback, dispassionately describe the behavior of the person with entire information. Convey your feelings objectively and specifically without hurting the other person. Explain the impact and the implications and complications involved in such kind of behavior. And request or implore the other person to change his intentions, actions and behavior as it will help in having better personality and command respect among all. There has to be etiquette in all the stages of feedback in order to have effectiveness.


There are different types of feedback such as positive feedback, negative feedback, bipolar feedback and sandwich feedback etc,

If the end result of the feedback is in favor of the individual and that makes him happy and comfortable it is said to be positive feedback. On the other hand, if the outcome of the report or feedback is not palatable to the other person and requires drastic correction for improvement then it is known as negative feedback. Third method of feedback is the bipolar one which is blend of both appreciation and correction. There is a polished manner and method of giving feedback which is known as sandwich method. In this method, the negative comments are embedded between positive comments. Such as this kind of feedback starts with a positive sentence of praise followed by the intended information conveyed to be negative for correction and then quickly and smartly concluded with positive praise. For instance, “Sangeeta, you are so sweet and cute in appearance. Unfortunately the attire is not matching to the function. Of course, your manners appeal me the most”.


Learning is a process from cradle to grave. And one can learn effectively and efficiently if the feedback is taken continuously. The feedback appriser must be someone who is fair, dispassionate and impartial to judge, evaluate and provide constructive feedback for progress.

Constructive feedback reinforces the strengths and helps in overcoming the weaknesses and provides the direction to the areas that need to be improved.

There are appraisers in corporates who are exclusively meant for evaluating the employees for their performance. If there are any shortfalls the employee skills and abilities are upgraded by providing proper training. Human resources are the most precious capital in any organization. Feedback, as a tool, helps the organizations to measure the standards of the employees also such as Total Quality Management (TQM). In this cut throat competitive world, all organizations are laying stress on human capital.

The organizations are employing specialized professionals for feedback evaluation and it indicates the growing significance towards evaluation of feedback.


Varun was a hardworking student in an engineering college and when Varun gave negative and constructive feedback to his faculty, the latter awarded minimum marks in the internal examinations. Who was at fault? The faculty? Or the student? It is certainly the faculty for not having taken the feedback constructively. There is always room for improvement and the probable areas needs to be improved. Unfortunately the faculty could not digest the negative feedback.


Pooja was an excellent speaker and delivered a wonderful seminar on a topic. At the end of the seminar Pooja asked his teaching faculty to give feedback. The faculty highlighted all the positive elements and ingredients such as delivery, flow, command, confidence, knowledge, relevance to the topic and she felt greatly excited. Subsequently the teaching faculty asked her to meet in his cabin. In the cabin, the faculty personally commented, “Your speech was excellent with total command, control and confidence in communication. However there was a flaw in your body language that is keeping a leg apart while standing that looks inviting others and that needs to be improved. Rest everything was superb”. In this context the faculty gave a positive feedback in public and a sandwich feedback in private.


John applied for the post of Soft Skills trainer in a Business School and was called for interview. It was a panel interview consisting of eight persons from different disciplines including Human Resources (HR) person. The interview was conducted in a professional manner and it took around 20 minutes and at the end of the interview one of the members asked John to conduct a training activity so that they could judge for his suitability and capability to the post. John was expert in conducting interviews, group discussions, team games and other practical oriented activities. The panel member asked John to conduct the group discussion for the panel members and provide feedback.

John immediately took the charge and explained the do’s and don’ts to be followed and gave a controversial topic so as to make the group discussion interesting and exciting. The panel members discussed with in the given time and there were heated exchanges of views and opinions and once the stipulated time was over, John stopped and provided feedback to each individual. After listening everything they insisted John to give negative feedback such as by highlighting only the weaknesses of each panel member and John found himself in a trap. Because it is human nature to take positive feedback and negative feedback is usually resisted. That too during interview while seeking employment giving negative feedback proved to be a big risk.

But John started by saying, “You are the veterans in your own disciplines. I am not competent to comment about your competency but since you are insisting on negative feedback I will provide. I will not like to call weaknesses rather I would like to call these are the areas for improvement”. And John listed out the areas for improvement on an individual basis. And at the end John said, “Over all, you panel members have done extraordinarily well by putting your effort, energy and enthusiasm and I am highly honored to provide you such feedback”.

This is the case of sandwich feedback. Giving feedback requires a lot of experience, tact and diplomacy.


• Never mix up the issues with the individuals. Give importance to issues not individuals. It helps the other person to receive feedback positively and constructively.
• Be specific and objective. Elaborate the specific part of the problem and then give feedback with justification. It should be logical and analytically supported and substantiated.
• Praise in public and criticize in private. If the feedback is positive and worth to be appreciated give it in the presence of all so the person feels elevated. On the other hand, if the feedback is negative call personally to the cabin or cubicle and then offer your comments for correction.
• Don’t praise for the sake of praising as it loses its touch. The other person feels that it is flattery.
• Catch up the situation and find the person doing the right things and then praise. It is the right time to pat and the person will enhance his performance also.
• Don’t be selective and choosy in appreciation and praise as it develops a great good will among the appreciated people but creates greater bad will among the majority of the people. As it is known that people getting positive feedback are few in number where as the people getting negative feedback are usually more in number. To put it precisely there should not be any favoritism in giving positive feedback.
• At times the actions prove to be wrong although the intentions are good and it is the other way round like although intentions are wrong the actions tend to be positive. Often the good intentions of our best relatives prove worse than the bad intentions of our worst enemies. There has to be consistency in intentions and actions.
• Never keep praising the same individual continuously as others might view it as partiality or bias. Find out the strengths of each individual and highlight the same in the feedback.
• Avoid comparisons with other people as it leads to ego clashes and ill feelings. Remember that everybody is unique in this world. Even the twins are not alike in attitude and aptitude.
• Offer only your comments not your judgments.


• Listen carefully to the person providing feedback. Don’t try to defend yourself instantly if it happens to be negative. Take it in your stride.
• Learn to paraphrase the contents of the feedback, analyze, absorb and accept. Don’t demonstrate either positive or negative body animation or facial animation.
• Accept gracefully and project positive body animation and positive facial animation. Ask if you have any clarifications. And also display your enthusiasm to learn the ways and means to correct the same.
• And finally thank the person for taking the time to provide constructive feedback.
• Remember one thing that no man is free from weaknesses in this world.


The intention of any feedback is not to harm, hurt or humiliate but to help in correcting the attitude and behavior of the individual for the progress of the individual as well as the institution in which he is working. Feedback is essential in every walk of life. There is a strong need and demand to innovate new tools and techniques for evaluation and feedback of the employees so that optimum utilization of the precious human resources can be expected and achieved.


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