Nobody likes to give bad news; however, the job of a manager doesn’t often leave other choices.
Leaders must be able to provide negative feedback to allow an employee the chance to improve, lay someone off if there are budget constraints or share the need to work extensive overtime if a last minute project comes up.
There is a right and a wrong way to give bad news – and we will provide three ways of doing so to minimise hurt feelings and a poor corporate morale.
Possibly the most important rule about sharing bad news with your team is to do so as soon as possible.
Although you may feel nervous or will want to spare your employees’ feelings, our fast-paced and often transparent world could lead to them finding out anyway.
The scenario will, in turn, create a bigger problem as the individuals may lose trust in you for not being the one to tell them of the news.
After that, they may lose all faith in you and not believe a thing you say in the future.
You need to take your leadership power seriously and be able to deliver bad news as soon as it can be shared with your team members.
When you decide to gather them to deliver it, don’t beat around the bush and try to soften the blow, this often leaves the listeners confused about your message.
When sharing bad news, try to be as honest as possible.
Of course there may be information that is sensitive and only you and other senior personnel may be privy to it; if that is the case, simply state that to your team.
Otherwise, be open and honest about what is going on, what caused it, and what will happen from that moment on.
It is perfectly acceptable to admit that you may not have all of the information yet, or that there is no certain outcome – this admission will only strengthen your credibility to your team.
If you are to blame or have a role in a certain bad outcome, admit your fault.
Being straightforward and admitting your mistakes will make you look more human in front of your staff, and teach them that everyone can make mistakes.
After delivering the bad news, leave enough time to listen to your employees.
They may be upset, disappointed or even frantic, but it is your job to hear them out and be there for them.
It may be your natural reaction to tell them that everything will be OK – avoid doing this unless you are sure that it will be!
Head of Training and Development
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Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.