Mastering The Art Of Delivering Bad News To Employees

As a leader it’s your responsibility to openly and honestly communicate with your team. That means you get the enjoyment of telling them the good news and the unfortunate task of delivering the bad news too. Bad news is part of the game. Don’t avoid it, instead master the art of delivering bad news to employees. It’s an essential skill that every leader needs to perfect.

Job seeker covers mouth after receiving bad news

The Absolute Worst Ways To Fire Someone

Delivering bad news to employees is not something to look forward to, but it is something you’ll have to deal with at some point. As we all know, bad news takes many forms – budget cuts, poor performance reviews, firings, missed deadlines, project cuts, requests denied, etc. Are you ready to tell your employees about these things?

While you may not be able to script your delivery for every form of bad news, there are a few universal tips for delivering bad news to employees:

  • Prepare Yourself – Delivering bad news to employees is not fun. Before you speak to an employee, have a game plan on how you will deliver the news.
  • Pick The Best Time And Place – Always consider the timing and the location when delivering bad news. This can help to soften the impact.
  • Consider The Best Communication Tool – Delivering bad news is typically best done face-to-face. It’s not a good idea to deliver the news via office marker board, email, phone, or text.
  • Don’t Delay – Once you get bad news, deliver it in a timely manner. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to tell the recipient.
  • Read Your Audience – Every recipient of bad news will behave differently. Since you should know your team, you should have a basic understanding of how they will react.
  • Set The Stage – Try to soften the blow by preparing your audience that bad news is coming. A simple, “I have some difficult news to tell you…” can set the stage for the conversation.
  • Be Respectful – Before you deliver bad news, look at the big picture. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. Remember to treat others how you would want to be treated.
  • Be Honest – Honesty is always the best policy. Use clear and direct language. Stick to the facts. Do not beat around the bush or try to sugarcoat the hard truths.
  • Stay On Point – When delivering bad news, always stay on topic. Don’t deviate from the task and start talking about the weather, the holiday party, or some other non-relevant topic.
  • Watch Your Delivery – Be mindful of both your body language and your tone of voice when delivering bad news to employees. How you say things is as important as what you say.
  • Show Compassion – Receiving bad news is tough – especially when it comes out of nowhere. Do your best to console your coworker while maintaining a professional relationship.
  • Provide An Explantation – Before you deliver bad news, get the facts and be able to explain “why.”
  • Explore Solutions – After you’ve delivered the news, help the recipient explore alternative options or better solutions.
  • Document The Situation – Just like anything else in the working world, it’s a smart idea to document everything.

Delivering bad news to employees requires practice. Use these tips to help master this leadership skill. Good luck!

See Also: What To Do When An Employee Makes A Mistake

Sign up for our newsletter!