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Chapter 11: How to Deliver Bad News

Overview

“I’ll never forget that day!” my friend Joan said to me. “I have never felt so sick to my stomach about any message I had to give the staff as I did that one.”

I’m sure many of you can guess what she told me next. Joan works in the financial services industry. Her company was “right-sizing.” People would lose their jobs, offices would be consolidated, budgets would be cut, as the organization decided where to focus its spending. Life, as her staff had known it for many years, would no longer exist.

A manager’s job is to communicate to staff. That means delivering the bad news along with the good. Unfortunately, for most of us, delivering the good news is a job we like—delivering the bad is a job we’d like to delegate!

Kill the Messenger!

Delivering bad news is complicated. The implications are often not clear. The message is sometimes incomplete. The impact, in the larger sense, may not be known yet. And we may not be the originators of the news, only the messenger. And you know what people say about the messenger ...

We have a lot to lose.


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