Serving Feedback in a Sh*t Sandwich, plus The Death of Cable TV

Today I learned:

1. The Sh* Sandwich: I had a great discussion this morning with a few other managers about performance evaluations and the art of delivering feedback. One person came up with a term that I wasn’t familiar with before today – the Shi*t Sandwich.  Essentially this is the practice of framing a piece of negative/constructive feedback with two positive points.

For example: “You did a job great developing that proposal, John. We need to do a lot of work to get your presentation skills up to par, but in the end you are still great at developing rapport with clients.” Although, we know that with many managers the middle part will be more like, “…your presentation skills suck…” Hence the title.

Regardless, I am not a big fan of this approach.

It is an easy way to get across a tough point but the area for growth can get lost in “the bread.”  I prefer to deliver both the positive and the negative separately, clearly delineating between the two. As well – maybe most importantly – I think it is critical to ensure upfront the person is ready to hear everything you have to say.

My preferred approach would be closer to this: “John, would you like some feedback on our work with Customer X?…Great…I think you did an excellent job in some areas but in a few spots we need to work on improvement. Let’s start with what I think you did very well…”

From my perspective The Sh*t Sandwich is a cop out. It’s an easy way to get tough news across, but in the end if the key piece doesn’t hit home you will just need to revisit it down the road. Better to be clear, with specific examples, up front so you can get to work on the road to improvement.

2. The Death of Cable TV: Admittedly it is not dead yet, but its days are numbered.

In the fall we got a PVR, and we now watch about 5-10% of the commercials we previously watched, mostly when we forget to fast forward.

More recently we signed up for Netflix, and in the last month my 4 year-old daughter hasn’t watched Treehouse TV once. She is only interested in Netflix (via TV, iPad or Computer) as she is in control of what she consumes. She can even pause it to pee.

Add in Apple TV a couple weeks ago and we now stream shows, along with our pictures and music.

Interestingly, with more choice we are actually watching far less TV. Flipping on a slideshow or some music is now viable and fast, so we are turning to more laid back evenings with music, pictures and books. All in all, everything is better, faster and in-line with what we want, when we want it.

Reflecting on it today it occurred to me that it all happened very quickly. Our progression – from basic cable to everything on-demand – took us about 3 months. This spells very bad news for our cable account. If every hockey game was free in HD online we simply wouldn’t need it.

How many years will it take for everyone else to follow the same path? 10 years? 5?



PVR with my Dad and Story time with Angry Birds

Today I learned:

1. The concept of the PVR is lost on my dad. This is despite the fact he owned one before me.

Our conversation tonight:

Me (immediately upon Dad’s arrival): Don’t tell me what happens in the hockey game, I PVR’d it.

Dad: You’re going to want to watch the first period, and then not much else until the shootout.

The lesson saved me a couple hours I guess.

2. Story time works with Angry Birds: In an attempt to mix things up, story time with my daughter has recently involved a fictional monkey (which she appropriately named Parakeet) and his travels around the world, supplemented by photos from google images of different cities viewed on our Ipad.

Inventive I thought, but admittedly I just wasn’t up for it tonight. Fighting a bit of a cold my creativity was waning, but I figured out a way to deal with it.

Story time tonight involved a gang of very angry birds who were intent on knocking over bad-guy pigs. Why? Well, the pigs had eaten all their birdseed of course. She seemed to enjoy it, and in the meantime I passed 5 more levels so I am calling it a win-win. I now have an idea for tomorrow too – an alligator that is sad because he want a bath, but he can’t find the water!