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Being the Bearer of Bad News

As a manager, there are many opportunities to share good news, recognize staff members for accomplishments, and to enjoy a few moments focusing on a job well-done.

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As a manager, there are many opportunities to share good news, recognize staff members for accomplishments, and to enjoy a few moments focusing on a job well-done. However, not all news is good news and unfortunately, delivering bad news is part of the job.

Bad news is often imagined to be a private event behind closed doors but there are many occasions when a situation calls for making an announcement to a group of people. Regardless of whether it's a poor review for an under-achieving staff member or a scenario that affects a whole department, it's important to be mindful of how you approach it.

The following tips offered by Vicki Gerson, (www.nfib.com/object/4140604.html) can be applied apply to both public and private circumstances when bad news has to be delivered.

  • Don't wait. Once you know you need to share the bad news, don't put it off.
  • Organize your speech. Just as you would with any speech you'd present to your employees or a client, make sure your presentation has an introduction, a main section and a conclusion or summary. Be sure to include key points in each of these three sections.
  • Don't sugar-coat your presentation. This is not the time to crack a joke or tell a funny story. Be as direct as possible. It is also important to be concise and not drag out the information in an hour-long speech.
  • Don't be aloof. It is important to empathize with your audience. If you have lost a major contract, acknowledge that what you have to say may be difficult to hear. Share your feelings at this time because it is a great way to show your employees that you care about them.
  • Allow for questions. Once you deliver the bad news and completely cover the topic, allow time for questions. Answer them as completely as you can. Most likely these questions will cover how the bad news will affect the employees. This is also the time to put the bad news in perspective. Therefore deliver any good news that you can.

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