Friday, October 30, 2015

How Leaders Should Communicate When the News Is BadO

One businessman handing another a piece of paper that seems to convey bad news

Good news is fun to pass along. But when the news is bad, how can a leader or manager communicate to his team most effectively?

First, you need to plan how, while still sharing the news honestly , you are going to deliver the news so the team will accept it with a minimum of unnecessary upset and resistance. It takes some preparation to do it well. And you should practice so you can eliminate any body language that might be confusing or mistakenly send mixed messages.  To be effective, you need to authentically express yourself directly, clearly and confidently. This is the essence of most leadership communications skills training.

  • Be ready.  Do your homework so you know how and why the decision was reached. The better you understand the rationale and the process, the better you can describe it to your team so they know the decision was not made lightly or arbitrarily.
  • Be clear.  Deliver the news in a way that does not leave room for interpretation or encourage second-guessing. And, as much as you may disagree with the decision, it is your job to accept it.  Do not let your fear of people’s reaction dilute your message. Otherwise you risk wasting the opportunity to have the important frank and honest discussion required for people to get on board and move on.
  • Be empathetic.  Give the team the necessary perspective to understand, space to react and time to adjust.  Physiologically, bad news can dramatically increase adrenaline and push minds to start racing to worst case scenarios in a matter of seconds. Expect it and prepare for it.
  • Be visionary.  Help them look toward the future and support them in finding ways to minimize and acknowledge the negative while accentuating the positive.


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