Communicating bad news — we all hate to do it, wish we never have to do it again, and yet recognize that there will inevitably be times when we need to do it. Whether it is announcing a reduction in force, a negative change in employee benefits or compensation, a discontinued strategy or product line, or some other disappointment or painful news, these are times that separate the engaging leaders from the mediocre ones.
When leaders (or the overall organization) communicate well even in tough times, people realize they can trust them to make appropriate decisions, take responsibility, and do what’s best for the organization as well as the people who make up its workforce.
You can’t achieve your potential as a leader without learning and practicing effective communication — it’s a core leadership discipline — and that includes delivering bad news when necessary. Fortunately, the same principles and strategies for communicating good news also apply for bad news. And as with the rest of workforce communication, learning and practicing the principles can help you become a better leader, a more successful businessperson, and maybe even a better person overall.
In this episode, Jesse zeroes in on the top eight tips for successfully communicating bad news. Some of these are often skipped, with unfortunate results.
- Start with empathy and ambivalence
- Be timely
- Be clear and straightforward
- Explain why and how the decision was made
- Demonstrate caring
- Focus on the future
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Podcast episode 003: 5 Steps to Creating a Communication Plan
- Podcast episode 116: Two Empathy Tools for Influencing People to Take Action
- Podcast episode 062: Flexible Thinking: 5 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Better Decisions
- Blog post: The 5M Framework for Communication Strategy
- HBR article: How to Deliver Bad News to Your Employees
- Forbes article: How Great Leaders Deliver Bad News
- Article from Dennis Ackley: The SECRET of Communicating Bad News to Employees
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