The Rivers file Featured

8:00pm EDT March 26, 2010

Born: Elmont, Mich.

Education: Business administration and graphic arts degrees, Central Michigan University

Rivers on fielding tough questions: The human tendency would be to avoid those tough situations. But the reality is, if people are asking those tough questions and are willing to bring them up, you’re actually in a much better place as a business. If they’re not asking tough questions and if they’re not comfortable, then you have more issues as a company than you might care to realize. People need to trust enough that they’re able to ask those difficult questions and know that there aren’t going to be repercussions.

Rivers on different types of communication: From a practical standpoint, you can’t always be face to face with people as much as you’d like or want to. Then, there are some things that you want to write out and put in written form so that people can hang onto it and look back to it. That helps if you’re talking about more detailed strategic initiatives or cultural issues. People learn better if you have written and verbal at the same time, but giving them those different ways to take in that information is key.

Rivers on using initial wins to generate momentum: You take them, and communicate and plaster them anywhere you can. You have to make people aware. I also think that what happens is you get individuals and pockets that are getting success first, and it’s much more compelling for an employee to hear that from a peer than it is for me to share the information. If you have a salesperson who is highly successful with a new method or new way of selling, put that salesperson upfront and let them tell their story. If you do that, it creates this environment where other people sit back and say, ‘If they did that, why can’t I do that?’