The Pooh Sandwich


If there’s one thing that we all need it’s the truth. What we don’t need is a bunch of glad handing wrapped around the problems we’re facing. There may be a few members on some teams that are genuinely unable to deal with the reality that they need to grow, but maybe those are people who shouldn’t be on their teams, but instead go back to Oz, where nobody ever dies and nobody is ever harmed (except the witch).

When you have to deliver bad news check your culture and make sure that the pooh sandwich isn’t part of it. The pooh sandwich is traditionally called a $#!t sandwich, but we don’t use that sort of language here. You make the buns out of complements, but deliver the fecal matter in the middle. ┬áThe supposed psychological benefit is that you start and stop on high notes. But it is better to be transparent and real. If you’re frank with me I’ll be frank with you.

Before delivering the tough talk you’ll want to think about what you’re going to say to be clear. How can you let them know what the expectations are so that they will not misread things. I tend to want to pad everything so nobody gets hurt or has any sense of offense, but this is not that time. You need to be clear more than you need to be a cloud of corrective light. It doesn’t mean you should be kind, it means you shouldn’t have on kid gloves and mask the issue for fear of causing someone to have to grow.

You may need to come up with a plan for how you expect them to address thir issue. You may need to plan a meeting in a week to review how things are being addressed. You may need to have your own personal plan outlined.

Once you clearly speak the concern or issue you need to ask your team member if they understand. You need to get that they get you. Then you need to ask them if they have questions about what you said, what you’re expecting, etc. Then ask them if they would like some examples of how to plan and execute the change. Many people won’t want it, but be prepared.

I don’t like bad news!┬áBut I like the trust that comes with honesty. If you need me to up my game then tell me so. Honesty builds trust, evendors if it makes us sore a bit. Keep the pooh sandwich off your managerial menu.

How have you received bad news?

– the MGMT