by Angela Lauria September 21, 2017
Have you heard of the Oreo Cookie Approach to feedback?
When I was in the corporate world, I used to get called into the HR department a couple times a year so they could explain this to me.
Here’s how it works:
When you have an employee, boss, or other team member that isn’t doing a good job in your opinion, NEVER tell them that. Instead start with a compliment:
Hey Marissa, I wanted to tell you how much I love your summary emails each week! It’s great to have a look at what you are doing.
Then share some less positive feedback but in a sort of positive light so you don’t hurt their feelings:
You know one idea I had was that if you took the same leadership at your weekly team meetings that you do with those emails we might get better results. I noticed a lot of people are sleeping or multi-tasking during those meetings.
And then, close with another compliment just to keep the vibe positive.
Obviously, you are the expert here and you always make great decisions so I just wanted to share that with you in case it was helpful!
And there is your Oreo!
Everyone feels good and you got to share what was on your mind that wasn’t working….OR DID YOU??
Look – I’m not here to say whether or not the Oreo Cookie approach works for some people, or if it’s the right or wrong way to do it – but what I can tell you is that it FOR SURE is not for me.
The Oreo Cookie approach is confusing AF. Both giving and receiving this kind of feedback feels like one big mixed message to me. I’m not clear on what I want or how I feel as the sender or the recipient.
Now, I have a somewhat unique perspective here because I know I am not neurotypical. I test on the low end of the Asperger’s scale and non-straight forward feedback is almost impossible for me to process.
In school, I remember multiple teachers saying they were giving extra credit for class participation, so I would sit in the front row and raise my hand to answer every single question. Then they would call me in the hallway and ask me to give other people a chance to participate more and to please stop raising my hand. I could not for the life of me figure out why the extra credit was only for people who weren’t participating, but my extra credit was for sitting on my hands. If that’s what they meant, why didn’t they say it!?!?
I’m a No Sugar-coating Coach.
When you work with me, there will not be Oreo cookie feedback.
And for some people this is scary – a little sugar coating for some people goes a long way. My best friend is a genius at this she can read between lines I can’t even see!
For year’s I wanted to be different, to be gentle, to be more likeable. I’d march into the HR office. I’d know the lecture was coming. I’d truly be grateful for the feedback. I’d read the books, sign the performance improvement plans, promise to do better…. And then fail again, feel like crap and eat more sugar to sooth my disappointment in myself. (That didn’t really work either, to be honest).
And then I read a revolutionary book called Now Focus on Your Strengths (from the Stengthsfinder folks at Gallup) and I made a decision to stop trying to fix my non-neurotypical tendency to be blunter than is normally socially acceptable.
I made a decision to let my damn freak flag fly.
I was called into the HR department for the last time a few years ago. The HR person had long curly golden-brown hair and warm eyes. She told me how impressed my boss was with the massive impact I was having to the revenue in our division and how they felt like with the right adjustments there was a big raise and a promotion in my future. All I needed to do was to sign this 90-day performance improvement plan and agree to take a class on how to communicate more diplomatically, to promise not to swear, and to hold my feedback in meetings to review with my boss going forward. She was sure based on my intellect and the results I’d already gotten that this would explode my leadership potential in the company.
I wasn’t confused by the Oreo Cookie feedback anymore.
The request was this: “You would be awesome if you could just be a slightly different person. We’d like to keep the good parts (the revenue magic) and toss the bad parts (the blunt intensity) and then you will be fully accepted.
Here’s the problem though – that assumes there are good and bad parts and it assumes these 2 things are separate.
Do you know where the revenue magic comes from?
The Blunt Intensity.
Your magic cannot be separated from your mess. They are 2 sides of the same coin.
I can see things other people can’t because I live in a world without sugar coating. This isn’t my curse, it’s my super power. It is the precise reason I get the results I get for myself and now for my clients.
I didn’t sign the 90-day performance improvement plan document.
I walked away from that job and from a life of trying to fix my broken parts. I understood – and understand – why my approach isn’t a good fit for the corporate world, but I also see what magic it has created in my business and for my clients.
No sugar coating got one of my clients an $80K+ day this month. Another had a $32K month. Another signed her first $10K client. (God, I remember signing my first $10K client – it was just a few years ago and she is still one of my favorite humans on the planet.)
No sugar coating means I ONLY work with people who are brave enough to hear the whole damn truth – shadows and light – and work through their reactions to find the love by doing their OWN work.
You know, here is what I believe:
Feedback is never painful.
Only your THOUGHTS about the feedback is painful.
And if you can learn to manage and direct your own thoughts – you can LITERALLY have ANYTHING.
I teach people how to manage and direct their thoughts so much more effectively by NOT sugar coating. I bring everything up for people. We lay it bare together. And we find the thoughts that lead to fast results.
It does feel like a miracle. One of my authors has lost 20 lbs in the last 9 weeks, another has shifted her entire voice from her head to her heart, another remodeled her office and she looks like the Queen of the World on our weekly calls. They are becoming the people who have the results they dreamed of.
Watching them over 9 weeks feels like I am watching 5 years of time-lapse photography as my clients change physically, energetically, and emotionally in what seems like an impossible timeline.
I cry about 100 times a week about their results and yes, it is because I am proud of them, but it’s also because I am proud of my former self – the girl who walked away from that 90-day performance improvement plan. The 300 lb girl who had 5 mouths to feed and a $3,000 mortgage and $50K in credit card debt, who said “Fuck this noise. I am going to focus on my strengths and stop trying to fix the parts of me that make other people uncomfortable.”
That girl was the bravest person I have ever met.
And every day someone signs up to work with me I think they are the bravest people I know. Because my clients say “No more sugar coating! Tell me the truth. What do I need to do to make the difference I want to make?”
And then they DO IT! THEY do it… not me. I am just the mirror that makes it possible for them to see what was there all along. You see it turns out all those HR pros that were trying to help me improve, were actually giving me the evidence I wanted to hold myself back. When I take that evidence away, I watch my clients turn what looks like their weaknesses into their strengths.
Here’s what a few of them said recently:
If you have been looking for a coach who tells it like it is, we should probably talk. I’ve got 2 spots left to get your book done in 2017. No BS. Say yes, and your book will be live on Amazon (and you will probably have achieved Amazon best seller status) before the end of the year. How amazing will it feel on New Year’s Eve to know you wrote a book in 2017!
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