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How to Deliver Bad News
February 15, 2012
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Delivering bad news to a group is likely to "cause anxiety, result in at least a temporary drop in productivity, and prompt some of your valued employees to look for work elsewhere," reports Kevin Daley in Harvard Business Review OnPoint (Fall 2010).  He offers a 4-part plan for minimizing the damage:

1.  Do it as soon as possible.  Bad news travels faster than a space shuttle.  Until an official announcement is made, there will be wild speculation by your employees.

2.  Speak candidly.  Tell employees everything that can be told.  If you don't yet know the full extent of the impending change, say so....  Be compassionate, but don't apologize for your bad news or talk at length about how bad you feel.

3.  Give them the big picture.  Begin the presentation by giving context — but do it quickly... Assure employees that management has a strategy for overcoming hard times and ask for their support. Without misrepresenting the situation, be optimistic.

4.  Plan for questions.  An otherwise excellent presentation can be undermined with an awkward handling of the Q&A.  Anticipate the questions you're likely to be asked and be ready for them with concise and credible answers.






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