Breaking bad news is never fun, but if you run a business, it’s only a matter of time before you need to deliver a blow to your employees. How you break the news is crucial. If you don’t handle it correctly, things could get totally out of hand, and your employees could all turn on you. If you deliver bad news the right way, you stand a better chance of your employees at least respecting the position you’re in.
Here are some tips to soften the sting of bad news.
Don’t give bad news and run. Your employees give a lot for your company. The least you can do when delivering bad news is to be there to answer their questions. It’s best to deliver your news in the morning as it gives the news time to sink in. If you give it at the end of the day just before leaving, it can leave employees confused, scared, and upset.
Depending on the news, let all employees hear the news at the same time. There are some situations, such as layoffs/firings, where it’s ideal to give the news one-on-one if possible, but that’s not always realistic. The main advantage of sharing news with all employees at once is that it guarantees all employees hear the same message, preventing miscommunication and keeping the power in your hands. However, you should strive to keep a personal feel to your group meeting.
Give employees a way to follow up and voice their concerns. Keep an open line of communication with your employees after giving your bad news. At the end of your meeting, you can open things up for questions. Just make sure you’ve given your full message before taking questions. You can also allow employees to follow up via email, phone, and in-person meetings.
Get prepared. The news you’re about to give is going to negatively affect a lot of lives. You don’t want to be up there winging it. Prepare your message ahead of time, so you can go up there and deliver it clearly and honestly. You should also try to prepare yourself to handle all types of reactions, because you never know how employees will respond. The last thing you want is to get caught off guard, allowing things to spiral out of control.
Stick to the facts. Whenever possible, you need to have facts that back up the actions you’re taking. Stick to these facts when delivering the bad news. Be objective and as honest as you can be. This will help boost your credibility, and it can allow employees to understand the reasons for your actions a little better.
Be empathetic but positive. You don’t want to be a heartless bastard who callously delivers bad news without regard for employees’ feelings. At the same time, you don’t want the meeting to get too negative of a vibe. Be empathetic, but try to keep the mood as upbeat as possible.
Have you ever delivered bad news to your employees? Based on your experience, what tips would you add to this list?