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“Be the encourager not the discourager!

Before I retired, I was in management for most of my career. Starting out with our family business. Then I managed one of the nation’s most prominent “dollar stores” for seven years. Finally, ending up being a team lead at an Ikea store in St. Louis, Missouri. After over forty years of retail, the stress of the job became more than I could handle, both physically and mentally.

One of the tools I used to work with my employees was the “sandwich treatment.” Also known by many other names. When an action needed correcting, you started by giving praise or “the top piece of bread.” Like “I like the initiative you have taken on doing your job.” You would then proceed with the advice or discipline part of the conversation, “The meat.” You would then close it out with a “Bottom piece of bread,” ending with a compliment or praise. Which may be, “I know that you can accomplish anything you want.” Or “working together, I know you can improve.”

When a corrective action needs to be done, the person on the receiving end will be on the defensive. Starting with the “meat” or the discipline may lead to anger and hurt. This may cause the situation to escalate to the point where nothing can be accomplished, and more harm than good is achieved.

Whereas leading with a compliment may take the edge off what comes next, “The Meat.” Softening the criticism that will be perceived by the employee.

Finally, ending with “the bottom piece of bread,” the employee would leave feeling uplifted and determined to take the necessary steps to improve. You would then have an employee happy to be working for you, instead of one that would rather be anyplace else but there.

Did it always work? No, but most of the time, you had someone eager to improve, and things would then run much smoother for you and the employee.

I have tried to use that in my everyday life, from raising three great boys to daily life in general. People always respond better with encouragement and praise. It makes them feel good about themselves and gives them the confidence to reach for the stars.

In this world today, humanity needs to take a step back and praise the people around us, and if there is a disagreement, talk about it, get it out in the open, and not let things fester inside. Then, finish it off with a positive word to each other.

We are so eager to condemn and hurt. Instead, we need to understand and respect those we disagree with. We would find out we have more in common with one another than we thought.

Jesus tells us “to love one another as He loves us.” Let’s do that by encouraging and lifting each other and making this world a happier place to live in.

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