One of the tasks most managers dread the most is telling bad news to their employees. Whether it is a bad sales report or laying off someone from work, it is never easy. It is like being a doctor delivering the results to a patient that he or she has a cancer.
You need to get the job done and as a leader, you have no other choice but to step up. No one else can do it for you. If you are unable to do it, things could get even worse. Imagine working for a company where employees think they are doing a great job when they don’t. Here are some things you need to do in order to deliver bad news to employees.
Rip the band-aid off
As someone who always joins board meetings or executive meetings, you tend to be very cautious with your words. You don’t want to hurt or offend anyone. At this point, the best possible way to solve the problem is to just say things out loud. There is no other way of delivering bad news other than delivering it straight away. Avoid beating around the bush. It won’t help. Tell them exactly what happened and will happen next. You don’t have to be harsh but you can tell them the harsh reality so they will have a clearer picture.
Start with the actual news
When a branch is closing and some employees might be laid off, it is not good to start with a different topic. For instance, there is no need to talk about the goal of the company and its vision before saying that it will shut down. Start with the difficult news and tell them the reason why it has to happen. They need to know the truth anyway and there is no other way to tell them the truth other than just being direct about it. Just provide a short context but you have to say the truth right away.
Show that you also feel hurt
You need to be honest and straight to the point, but you need to show compassion. Let them know that you are also hurt about what happened but there is nothing that you can do about it. You have to be as calm as possible when delivering the news and try to understand how they feel as well. If there are violent reactions, try to take the high road. Don’t fight back and just let the employees vent out. At this point, you just have to listen. It is a difficult moment for everyone and as a leader, you have to be more understanding.
In short, there is a way of delivering bad news but still remain respected. You don’t have to put everyone down. You also don’t have to fear confrontations. Most of all, you have to build a good relationship with them. Whatever happens next, your relationship doesn’t break.
Featured and 1st image by Artur Andrzej (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
2nd image by Michael Raphael (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons