When communicating in challenging situations, rehearse the key points, get feedback from others, and adjust your approach if necessary. Learn why it’s important to be clear on the justification for the decision that's been made.
- Picture the scene. You need to tell a team of employees they're at risk of being laid off. Your department is in trouble, and you need to get the news out as quickly as possible, before your team finds out from other sources. You fire off a quick email, with a brief explanation. You deliver the news in a jumbled manner. You haven't detailed next steps, or any background. Now, imagine, you're the employee receiving that email, how would you feel? Whatever kind of news you have to deliver, planning how you will communicate and what you will communicate is critical, and even more so if you're delivering bad news.
Now, rewind and imagine you're about to tell your team, they're at risk of being laid off. You're really eager to get the news out to them, as soon as you can. You don't want them to hear from anyone else. You have good intentions, but you realize it's still not wise to rush this communication. You're right in thinking that you need to be clear on who receives the message and in what order, which is probably why you're eager to get the message out to your team, quickly.
There's a risk if a group of people hear this announcement before your team, the message could leak to your team, which wouldn't be an appropriate way, for them to learn the news. When delivering any message, it's essential that you consider stakeholder management, which is really about thinking through who hears which parts of the message, in which order. Your stakeholders are people who have a vested interest in hearing the message.
There could be multiple stakeholders that you need to think about. Your team, clients, other employees that may be impacted. When you're clear on the message you want to communicate, you also need to choose your communication channel. Don't just go for the easiest or quickest approach, some news is best delivered face-to-face, so you can answer questions and provide context. Some news is best delivered via email, if you need to document key facts and figures.
Other news, is best conveyed via a telephone call, or Skype, if you're not in close proximity to the person you need to talk to. In the case of telling your team about redundancy, would an email fired off quickly, be the best approach? This kind of news is more than likely, best delivered and received face-to-face. There may however be reasons that you need to detail the announcement in an email.
If the news will be in the press shortly, for example. There is no one communication channel that it's best to use. It all depends on the circumstance. Take the time to consider how you'll communicate to get the best results for you, and the person you're communicating with, and the business. Whichever channel you choose, don't delay, unless there's a good reason to do so. When delivering bad news, or tricky news, it can be really tempting to delay conveying the message, as it can be uncomfortable.
But delaying won't help, you'll still have to deliver the news, and the longer you leave it, the more likely the person you need to tell the news to, will hear it from someone else. Take time to prepare, but be careful not to use this as an excuse to delay. Remember the key things to consider, when you're planning how to deliver bad news. How will you deliver the message? What steps will you take to ensure your communicating the news most effectively? Who are your stakeholders, the people who have a vested interest in hearing this news? Who will you communicate to and in what order? In the long run, your planning will help you to deliver bad news in the most effective way.
- Choosing your communication channel
- Creating your communication message
- Arranging and holding a meeting
- Communicating your message effectively
- The psychology of receiving bad news
- Next steps after delivering bad news
- Reflecting to enhance communication skills