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Straight up, no ice….

You know the way sometimes, a post, or even a comment on a post gets you thinking. A recent comment by Phil Kirkham on Georgia Motoc’s blog got my subconscious brain working overtime. So much to the point where I feel compelled to put finger to keyboard and write about it.
I had always been a fan of positive praise before negative feedback. As the bearer of bad news (like many software testers), I though this was an effective way of cushioning the impact of what I wrote or said.

So, when Georgia Motoc wrote  a post on feedback discussing the ‘Praise Sandwich’ I was surprised how negative Phil was on the approach. However his comment and  his link (indirectly to a post by Art Petty ) really got me thinking of how I communicate with developers. It made me realise that the positive feedback I was providing was more for my benefit than for the software developer.

Here is some Art’s original post:

5 Reasons Why the Sandwich Technique is a Truly Bad Practice:

  • It is a crutch that is solely for the benefit of the giver, not the receiver.
  • It obfuscates the real message.
  • It confuses the receiver by watering down the key message.
  • It destroys the value of positive feedback by linking it with the negative. Don’t forget that positive feedback is a powerful tool for reinforcing the right behaviors and the sandwich technique devalues this tool.
  • It is insulting to the receiver and borderline deceitful. “Bob, you did a great job on XYZ, but .” It’s like a pat on the back followed by a sucker punch followed by another pat on the back.

I have a real reason why I have changed my attitude to this:

When I’m on a short term assignment (which is often)  I don’t have time or the need to cultivate deep relationships with software developers. What is important is that the bugs I find are communicated in a clear and concise manner. That’s what I am paid for.

The praise sandwich is not necessary and more importantly it does not provide best value to my client.  This is something I learnt on James Bach’s course and has stuck with me. What ever you do ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now adding value for my customer”.

If you like what you read? Share and I will keep writing 🙂

3 thoughts on “Straight up, no ice….

  1. Glad my comment got you thinking. I’m sure the sandwich works for some people, some people ( me ) prefer the direct approach. A good manager knows about different strokes for different folks . I must have been having a grumpy day when I left my original comment though, didnt mean to be so negative – though I can get irritated when generalities get posted

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