Unfortunately, delivering bad news often comes with a managerial job. This could mean anything from telling an employee that they will not be getting a promotion this year to letting your entire staff know that their wages will be cut or they will be put on furlough until further notice. 

There is a right and wrong way to go about delivering news that will be difficult for your team to hear. Make sure that you do not make the following mistakes.  

Do not come unprepared

Before you deliver the news, make sure that you have as much information as possible. Think about the questions that you would be most likely to have if you were in the same position as your employees. Anticipate their concerns and the details that will be the most important to them. Address these points directly and be honest about what you do not know. 

Do not beat around the bush

This comes down to respect. Be clear and forthcoming. Deliver the bad news and then explain the reasoning behind the decision. Your employees are intelligent; they may not like what they are hearing, but they will appreciate you being straightforward and direct with them. Think of it like ripping off a Band-Aid – you need to do this quickly so that you can all move forward. 

Do not overexplain 

As much as you owe your employees an explanation when it comes to how the decision was made and the next steps, you also do not want to drone on and on. Focus on the facts, but then stop and allow your team to have some time to digest. Chances are they will want to ask questions. Either make sure that you allow time for this after delivering the bad news or let your employees know when and where they can direct their feedback. 

Do not be void of emotion

You want to be straightforward, but that does not mean that you should be cold. Especially when you are telling your employees news that will have an impact on their livelihood, it is important that you come across as empathetic. However, at the same time, you do not want to show your overt disagreement or dissatisfaction with the decision – this could reflect poorly on your company’s leadership. 

Do not leave things open-ended

As mentioned earlier, your employees will likely need some time to process the news. They may have questions, which you should make yourself available for. Let people know what the next steps are. If there are still outstanding details, let people know when they can expect an update or when changes will start to be made. As much as possible, you should fill your team with confidence that they know what is coming down the line. 

Bad news is a fact of life. By making sure that you do not make the mistakes listed above, you can put your company and team in the best position as possible for moving forward in a united front. 


Photo by Carlos Arthur M.R on Unsplash