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Letters to a Young Manager

Take me to the river, #370
LTYM > Managing People -- How to Begin

Dear Adam,
I know that delivering critical feedback is hard, but it's an essential part of being a good manager. How you do it can make all the difference.

One of my people who used to manage one of the departments in my organization, would have what he called the “Take me to the river” discussion. The organization happened to be on the Saugatuck River in Westport, Connecticut. He would say, “let's take a walk”. And he would walk with the employee down to the river and they'd have the “river discussion” about what the gaps were in their performance, where they weren't cutting it. So that became known in his department and more broadly in the organization that, if you were having “to the river talk,” it was probably critical news. But it was also a time for private face-to-face truth-telling. And it was away from the office.

So think about how and when you deliver bad news.



Going to the river ain't for sight-seeing; it's for seeing the truth

Discussion Questions:

1. Where are the places where you were told bad news about your performance?
2. Did you feel that it was personal and private?
3. Is there an advantage to delivering bad news in an alternate location?

For Further Reading:

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