How GOOD leaders deliver BAD news SUCCESSFULLY

by | Dec 1, 2021

We’ve all had to deliver bad news at some point in our lives.

As a leader, it can be a whole different ball game…when you have people depending on you, looking to you for inspiration, answers, and solutions.

The challenge of keeping employees engaged and motivated while also sharing news they don’t want to hear can be difficult to balance.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you find yourself in this situation:

1. BE CLEAR AND HONEST. Don’t sugarcoat it. If people feel like you aren’t being upfront with them, they won’t trust you.

2. EXPRESS HOPE AND OPTIMISM FOR A POSITIVE OUTCOME. Even if it doesn’t look that way, and even if you can’t promise anything right now, it’s important that you BELIEVE that things can and will get better. Paint a picture of what ‘better’ looks like.

3. PROVIDE YOUR TEAM WITH INFORMATION. Give them the confidence of knowing that you share information with them. And when you have more information and have the liberty to share it with them, you will. Make sure they know what they can expect in regard to the flow of information.

4. BE RESPONSIBLE. When your team asks questions you don’t know the answer to, it’s ok to say you don’t know. Reassure them that you’re taking ownership and will get the answers and information your team needs.

5. GIVE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS A PART TO PLAY. It’s awful to feel helpless, and it often encourages and motivates people when they feel they can be part of the solution.

6. ALLOW YOUR TEAM TIME TO PROCESS. People process at different rates of speed, filter information differently, and have varying levels of resilience. And that’s not a bad thing… Just be mindful and make space for the differences. Check in with them to see how they’re doing—not just practically, but emotionally.

7. ACKNOWLEDGE THE IMPACT OF THE BAD/HARD NEWS. While it is always important to express optimism and a belief that things can and will get better, don’t ignore or discount the current reality. After they’ve had time to digest it, ask your team what they want or need to help them navigate and move forward.

Communicating bad, difficult, or even complicated news and information to your team can be an opportunity for deepening trust and making progress together.