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How to Deliver Bad News to Your Team

Uh-oh, something has gone amok and now you’re the one left to clean up the mess. It happens – but have you ever been in a sticky situation that didn’t go well? We’re offering up some advice on how to deliver bad news to your employees – despite the fact that you’re probably not going to enjoy it. Whether it’s one-on-one or to a group, here are some tips to keep in mind when dishing out dreaded news.

Practice to gage responses

Practice in front of a mirror, in front of a friend, with family members or even your pet. Practice makes perfect – so do your best to simulate the encounter you are going to have with your employee by throwing out the various responses that you predict may be said. You’re likely to cover your bases if you try to think of every possible scenario and how to respond appropriately. Media training prepares you for delivering news and messages in the proper way so if you struggle with crafting the right message, start looking into courses to assist you with your delivery.

Communicate with others


If something is happening that employees need to know about, start thinking about the appropriate channels that you’d like to use to broadcast the news. Some issues are confidential, but if you’re obligated to share certain items with your staff, communicating the message to the masses is a great start. With great power comes great responsibility – so do the right thing and notify them when you’re able to.

Once you get through the hard stuff, focus on the good

Sure, the experience won’t be pleasant overall but the goal is to get through the hard stuff to make it out through the tunnel to the other side where you can focus on how you’re going to move forward. Develop a plan of action and tailor your response to focus on any positives that are going to come from this new development.

Accuracy is important – don’t use spin

Spinning makes everyone dizzy, so don’t dance around the issues. Transparency is what gives your company and staff credit – so find it within yourself to sift through the angle you’re going to play and get to the facts. Be as honest as you can be – within the legal boundaries that have been dictated to you. Disclosure is a touchy subject, but be as accurate as possible when you can.

If you’re to blame, accept responsibility

Accountability is the sign of a true leader. Fall upon your own sword instead of throwing it at someone else. If you’re to blame due to a bad decision, fess up and come forward. People are looking for a finger to point, and it’s better to have it pointing to you if you’re the reason things collapsed in the first place.

Listen to feedback

Keep your eyes peeled and ears open so you can decipher the concerns of your staff and stakeholders that are sure to come flooding in during times of crisis.

Plan ahead – map the next moves

When you’re hit with a hardship, the best way to show that you’re working on fixing it or that you’ve planned for the worst is to map out the next steps you’re going to take to resolve the issue at hand. Don’t just hit people with problems – come up with solutions.

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