As a boss or leader, how do you fare when delivering bad news…such as: “You’re redundant”?
Even though you may not have made the decision, it is often the manager’s responsibility to communicate unwelcome decisions. Approaching the giving of bad news in a businesslike manner and viewing it as just another management task – like selection or delegation – helps in such a situation. Giving bad news needs to be viewed just as you would an interview – with objectives and an agenda.
Objectives of the ‘bad news interview’
My management coaching clients find being crystal clear of the outcome of these interviews rules out some well-intentioned, but unhelpful objectives. The aim of the interview is “To make sure the employee fully realises and accepts a decision”.
It is not to make the employee happy about the decision, nor to agree the reasons for the decision. They shouldn’t see how bad you feel or be aware of other people’s situation, or decide what they should do.
Structure of a ‘bad news interview’
A bad news interview needs to be well planned and focused with five simple steps. Prepare what you’re going to say in advance and rehearse beforehand, using the following steps:
#1. Make contact with an appropriate greeting. Avoid social chit-chat or coffee. After initial formalities, get straight to the point. Small talk dilutes our message or gives false hope. We need to clearly and concisely state the decision and the reason for the decision at the outset.
#2. The decision. Clearly and succinctly communicate the decision and the rationale behind it. Don’t go too fast (we tend to speed up when we are under stress). Observe reactions.
#3. Listen/respond. Give time for the receiver to process the message then check understanding. Give them time to express strong feelings – stay with them during any emotional discharge and let them know that it’s okay. Acknowledge feelings and show understanding through reflective listening.
#4. Provide relevant information. If the message comes as a shock the person may not be able to process too much information. Give written clarification and necessary information as a back up. Avoid telling the person what they should do. Establish what information they need in order to make effective decisions and give information about any further support available.
#5. Next Steps. This part of the interview is more like a normal business interview. Having assessed the person is ready to move on, to some degree, it involves talking them through the next steps. Clarify how and when any transition will happen. Arrange any next interview and practical help. Bring the interview to a close in a warm but assertive way.
Interested in learning more? Would you like to improve your management skills with leadership coaching? Do you often have to make bad news announcements? Call me now, on 01302 220021.