While some may argue that there is no good way to deliver bad news, some ways are certainly better than others. Should you find it necessary to make such an announcement to your employees, be sure to do it in person. No matter what the news, it is always best to allow people the opportunity to hear it from your own lips and be able to immediately respond with their questions and concerns.
Below are more tips on delivering bad news to your staff:
- Provide advance notice to those who are personally affected. If the bad news will have personal repercussions for certain employees (and with the OK of your human resources department), notify these employees in advance to give them time to process the news. Whether it is the downsizing of a department or official word that profits are down, those whose jobs are on the line should know in advance if possible.
- Carefully consider the best time of day to make the announcement. Most people find it best to hold such a meeting at the end of the business day. Depending on the situation, though, it may be more beneficial to hold the meeting first thing in the morning, which allows employees to get straight to work on new assignments that could potentially come out of the announcement.
- Provide a clear and concise explanation. Attempting to sugarcoat news by hiding its full impact does a disservice to your team. Instead, clearly explain where the company stands without withholding information to make people feel better. Tell them what they need to hear; however, don’t feel the need to go into a detailed explanation of everything that may be going on behind the scenes.
- Allow time for questions. Expect that people will have questions and allow everyone the opportunity to ask them. For your own sake, consider in advance what questions your staff may have and think through the best way to communicate your answers in a nonevasive and straightforward manner.
- Shift the focus to what comes next. Instead of simply ending the meeting with an announcement of gloom and doom, shift the focus to what will come next. Once people hear negative news, they will begin thinking of the impact it will have on them. Address these issues and give employees a vision for how the company is seeking to deal with the situation, both immediately and down the road.
- Clearly communicate expectations. Whether the news means a shift in job responsibilities, overtime hours, or some other expectation, employees need to hear it communicated clearly. As they will be processing a lot of information, try to head off confusion by detailing new expectations clearly.
- Provide a memo of important points. Whenever major items will be covered, it is best to provide something in writing. Keep it brief and distribute it at the end of the meeting as one final way to clear up any confusion.