This piece on giving bad news caught my eye. As Jan Hills says, most of the training managers are given on this subject focuses on dealing with the reactions of the person receiving the bad news. However, she argues, it is just as important to look at the emotional state of the giver of bad tidings.
She’s right too.The problem with bad news in organisations is that people often avoid giving it until it is too late. If you have a word with someone when you notice his performance slipping, you are less likely to have to haul him into a disciplinary six months down the line.
But I bet most of you don’t do that. You hope the problems will go away until you are forced to do something about them and then the conversations become a whole lot more unpleasant, so you end up crapping yourselves even more before the horrible meeting. “If only I had acted earlier and nipped it in the bud,” you cry, “I wouldn’t have to deal with all this mess now.” I know, I’ve been there too.
If you are able to manage your own state of mind and control your emotional responses to the reactions you are likely to get, you go into the meeting with more confidence, therefore you are more likely to tackle these problems earlier on. Coaching or training in this area can be useful. Well, it worked for me anyway. I still hate giving bad news but at least I feel more in control now when I’m doing it.
It looks as if a lot of managers may be having to give bad news over the next year or so. Getting some help to prepare for these horrible conversations is not a bad idea.