Common Mistakes When Delivering Negative News to Employees

negative news

It is inevitable for you to deliver negative news to the people you work with. It can be a budget cut. It can also be about the cancelation of outdoor activities that were planned a long time ago. Worse, it could be about removing an employee from the job. No one wants to deliver this news, but as a leader, it is your responsibility to do so.

There is nothing wrong in stepping up to do the job, but you should avoid these common mistakes so that you can handle the situation well.

Setting a nice tone

You might want to make the situation lighter so you start by having a small talk. You also ask nice questions and make the employee feel comfortable. Once you have set the tone, this is when you decide to deliver the bad news. This is a big no. You should just go straight to the news that you wish to deliver. There is no point in making it easy or comfortable for the employee when the news they are getting will just be painful. You would rather rip the bandage right away than take it slow.

Trying to soften the negative news

Delivering Negative News

Don’t sugarcoat the news or find a light at the end of the tunnel that is yet to exist. Just say it as it is. For instance, if you are firing someone, don’t talk about how much you like the person or how satisfied you were of the job before. If those statements were true, it makes no sense to end up with such a decision. You should just say the news straight away and not worry about being too harsh. Regardless of the approach, if the news is harsh, it will look that way.

Choosing the wrong place

You might want to fire someone when there are other people in the room to make it less awkward. This is not going to help. The same thing is true when you have chosen a place that will soon be occupied. You can’t explain it in a few minutes so you need the right amount of time to discuss the issue in the right place. This is also a way of showing that you respect the person.

Asking about how the person feels

After delivering the news, you can keep your mouth shut. Some employees will have negative feedback, rant or get really mad. Just sit down and listen. If the employee decides to storm out, it is beyond your control. The biggest mistake is to ask how the other party feels. You already know the answer to that so it does not make sense to give such a question. If there is no question, you can ask the employee to leave. Otherwise, answer those questions but don’t change your mind. This will really be awkward and there is nothing you can do to change how things are.

Negative news will be negative regardless. Just say it as it is and move on.

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