One of the worst ways to deliver bad news to a truly high performer is via a S**t Sandwich.
But I see it being used more and more these days by founders.
What is it? Well, the classic s**t sandwich is first leading off with something nice or some good news, often droning on a bit too long. And then dropping in some tough news, then wrapping it up with a generic “good stuff” comment.
The s**t sandwich.
It remains a decent management tactic for low performers. It calms them before they’re fired, or demoted, or moved off a project, etc. It then relives the stress of the moment by ending with a nice word or two.
But it always backfires with a top performer, especially with someone that has 100% given their all for you.
They don’t need to hear the fake “good news” that starts the sandwich. They just need to hear the honest criticism.
I worked so hard for you. Every day. I gave it 110%. If I did something wrong, get it out. Get to it. Tell me.
The s**t sandwich breaks trust with a true high performer. It’s manipulative and the high performer sees right through it.
Use it with low performers, but realize it breaks trust with top performers.
The classic great CEO post on the topic from Ben Horowitz below:
And some great comments on LinkedIn post here:
(bad news sticker from here)