Tough Talks Book Series

Saying goodbye to Peyton: a very difficult conversation

Did you catch last Wednesday’s announcement that Peyton Manning’s contract with the Indianapolis Colts was not renewed? What a heart breaker of a difficult conversation. But what a great lesson on how to deliver bad news.

Colts owner Jim Irsay and fellow Colts executives had made the very difficult decision to let Peyton go and become a free agent. Peyton Manning wasn’t surprised. He knew that his health was still an unknown, his desire to play professional football was still strong, and his wonderful team was being dismantled to be rebuilt from the ground up…without him. He knew it was in the best interests of all parties for him to move on.

Both men appeared at the news conference together at the podium. They spoke with love, care, concern and integrity as they choked back tears, and jointly made the announcement that their long term employer-employee relationship had come to an end.

Indianapolis, my home town, is still mourning the news. I talked to many men who wiped away tears along with Peyton and Jim.

Here are 3 lessons  that all bosses can learn from that news conference:

  • Acknowledge when it is time to move on and put the pieces into place as  quickly as is feasible. Prolonging the inevitable only adds to the pain for all parties involved.
  • Be clear about the reasons for the breakup, firing, layoff, contractual ending. Communicate that message to the employee and all others concerned.  In this case, all others were the fans…or customer base…of the Colts.
  • Emotions are a part of it. Honor your feelings.

Kudos to Jim and Peyton for the way this was handled.  My Colts hat goes off to both of you. Goodbye, Peyton. I will miss you and your excellent example of giving your all to your work, your city, and your fans. Jim, thanks for being a great owner.

This entry was posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Difficult conversations, Franchises, Sports. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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