Delivering bad news is never easy. It is all the more difficult when you don't agree with the message you are dealt to communicate. For example, to tell a star employee that he has been denied a promotion due to some HR policy. Such situations call for great strength, as most often than not, managers are expected to toe the line and begrudgingly agree to break the news to the deserving employee. And hope that the messenger is not at the receiving end of the ire.
Such situations call for tactfulness, as the manager’s profile entails many such occasions where you’re forced to be the bearer of bad tidings. Here are some of the best ways to deliver bad news to employees.
If an employee was denied promotion, he is bound to question why the decision. You, therefore, need to be prepared with all the answers. When you are aware about how the decision was made, who was consulted and what other possibilities were discussed, you put yourself in a better position to understand and relay the decision and the reason behind it.
Body language, as for any occasion, holds importance while breaking bad news too. As with any situation, never avoid eye contact and slump your shoulders, your team will begin to feel like you don't agree with the management's decision. You must convey, in as many words and body posture, that there is room for negotiation. For example, if your team is not going to be allowed to work from home any longer, then the best way to relay the news is to call a office meeting and drop the bomb. Tell them in person and ensure you aren't giving any mixed messages through your body language.
After you've delivered the bad news and explained the decision-making process, ask the employee(s) for their feedback. As a manager, it is your duty to absorb your employees’ emotions when you've delivered bad news to them. However, even if you don't agree with decision, don’t open room for a debate while allowing the employee to vent, as this might allow the employee to argue the merit of the decision.
What's worse than hearing bad news? Knowing that the bearer of the news couldn't care less about how you feel. Therefore, if you have to deliver bad news to your employee, try to understand their situation and ease the blow. When you let your employee know that they have someone in their corner, they’ll be able to understand and accept the news.
Most people think that if they sit on bad news for long enough, it will magically disappear. But that almost never happens. For example, if you don't tell your employee that he was not promoted, it's not like the employee will forget about the promotion situation after one week. Make sure you deliver the bad news without delay or the condition may worsen more than you think.
If you treat the conversation as the most important thing you'll do all day, your employee will know you are as affected by the news as they are. Use the above mentioned five tips the next time you have to deliver bad news to an employee and you'll find the task easier to accomplish.