The feedback sandwich has grown quite popular among leaders, coaches and teachers. It consists of putting a negative criticism in between positive comments.
In Adam Grant's LinkedIn post, the Wharton professor and NYT writer noted that "the feedback sandwich doesn't taste as good as it looks." It may have been effective in giving appraisals before but may need to be stopped now.
First of all, the concept has been widely known and may have been ill=used most of the time. Now, when leaders compliment their team members, people brace themselves for the negative part to come. This, in turn, makes the whole thing seem insincere.
Second, if ever bosses are able to convey the positive comments with authenticity and sincerity, this could have an adverse effect on the negative feedback. It is highly likely that the listener will only be able to remember the first and last statements while discounting the middle - this is called the primacy and recency effect.
As leaders, sometimes it's important to go ahead and give the negative feedback directly. Just make sure that you explain why you're giving the criticism and certify that you have your team member's back.
It is also important to talk as a friend. Don't make it a boss vs. employee thing. Ask if the individual contributor is open to receiving feedback and listen to their suggestions as well.
According to LifeHacker, another tool that leaders could use is the "What I Like..." feedback model. Apparently, this is especially helpful when dealing with extra sensitive people by working around things or words that triggers defenses.
The model is composed of telling the person about what you like about his or her work. Make sure to give concrete and specific examples as well as explain why you like it.
Next, you can then suggest ways to improve by saying, "What would make me like it even more is..." This way, you are not just telling them that they're doing great, you also provide opportunities for growth and making their work better.