Providing criticism is never fun (I'm sure we all agree), but the one technique I have seen used over and over again is the compliment sandwich. 

So for those who don't know what a compliment sandwich is, let me enlighten you. A compliment sandwich is when you try to ease the blow of a criticism by delivering it between two compliments. 

Personally I don't like this technique at all (but that doesn't change the fact that I use it all the time). It makes genuine compliments come across as very insincere and you end up with a reputation for only complimenting someone when you have to criticise them. 

If you want to provide feedback to employees or colleagues you should have an environment where this can be done fairly openly, if you can't then I believe you do need to take a good look at the culture and environment of your team. Anyone interested in excelling at their job will be open to constructive criticism (personally in some of my best work environments, nobody used the compliment sandwich). 

This leads me into the article I have to share with you all about a neat little rule called "The happy hour rule". It's a great way to create a positive environment and also one where feedback (positive or negative) is welcomed with open arms.

Have a read and let me know what you think, also feel free to share any other techniques that help with providing feedback.