Why is it difficult to communicate ‘bad news’?
And when I say ‘bad news’ I mean in the context of ‘things not going to plan’.
We have all been in the position at work where the project is not going to meet the deadline date or be within budget.
Or maybe you have just accidentally deleted one of your bosses’ important documents.
Or at home, you just videoed over your wedding tape with the latest episode of ‘Friends’. Anyone accidentally done that? Anyone purposely done that?
I have been in the position of having to communicate bad news numerous times and I bet you have. We all try to cover it up or resolve it on our own, just so we do not have to tell anyone and no one will ever know.
I remember once working for a company where the ‘rule’ was all annual Performance Reviews had to be conducted and written up by 31 December. Due to other commitments, I could not meet the deadline, however I informed my boss and the HR department I would.
I thought I could catch up once back from the New Year holidays. What is so important about completing them by 31 December anyway?
Little did I know that the Performance Review directly affected individuals pay increases and because I had not completed some, several individuals did not get a pay rise in their January payslip.
That caused a lot of emotion, as you would expect. I was found out and had to explain myself.
Why didn’t I just say, “I’m not going to be able to make 31 December deadline on the Performance Reviews. Is that a problem?” instead of keeping it quiet and thinking I could catch up.
Now some of you are saying, this isn’t ‘bad news’, I know. It was for those who didn’t get a pay rise. But I can understand, if you have your own stories – maybe a multi-million dollar project was going to be one month late and you just can’t inform your boss. That would be bad news.
But this Performance Review example sticks in my mind because it was so stupid of me and I had let down many staff members.
Now when I interviewed Scot Herrick (Creator and Owner of www.cuberules.com) for The Great Successful People Package, it was as if we had known each other for a long time. We had great interaction and Scot shared his experience on such subjects as Change, Staff Management, Relationships, Getting On With Your Boss, Being a New Manager, Managing Bad News, Blogging, Being Indispensable….and more.
Scot shared all his successful and proven ideas and the conversation we had regarding communicating ‘bad news’ really jumped out for me.
Scot sees this as a strength. The fact that you can ask for help and advice when you are ‘up against it’, is a very powerful and respected skill.
He added that you should not only ask for help and advice but also provide your own proposal to overcome the ‘bad news’.
So for instance, the important project you are running is going to be 2 weeks late. Bad times!
However, the project will be implemented to plan, if you have two extra resources or another $10k or could implement a manual workaround. Good times!
As soon as you know there is ‘bad news’, invite and gather the appropriate individuals to a debate and agree a way forward.
So the next time you run into a ‘bad news’ situation don’t hide it and think it will go away. Shout about it and think ‘We can do this if…’