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Delivering Difficult News to your Team
Delivering Difficult News to your Team

Bad news comes in many forms but delivering it is always difficult. These steps will help make the best out of a bad situation.

Stephen Franklin avatar
Written by Stephen Franklin
Updated over a week ago

Delivering bad news to your team can be difficult, but it's important to handle this situation in a way that is professional, transparent, and supportive and sets up the team to adapt and move forward as quickly and productively as possible. When you need to deliver bad news to your team, these steps and tips will :

1. Prepare for the conversation.

This may involve gathering all of the relevant information, rehearsing what you will say, and considering how the team is likely to react.

Tips: Use Teaming's Private Notes to script the message you need to deliver. Use this as a reference to ensure that you aren't leaving out important information that the team needs to know. Brainstorm any likely reactions from team members and document your desired responses in case you become flustered and unable to recall the responses you believe will benefit your team the most.

2. Choose an appropriate time and place to have the conversation.

This should be a quiet and private location where the team can focus on the conversation and express their thoughts and feelings freely.

3. Be transparent and honest.

Be clear and direct about the bad news, and provide as much information as you can. Avoid sugarcoating the situation or providing false hope.

4. Be empathetic and supportive.

Recognize that the news may be difficult for the team to hear, and be prepared to listen to their thoughts and concerns. Offer support and resources to help the team through this difficult time.

Tip: There might be a variety of reactions across the individual team members as they initially process the bad news. Prepare yourself for all types of reactions and remember that it is your responsibility as their leader to guide the team through any trauma. If any team members "cross the line" into inappropriate behavior, respectfully request a private conversation away from the team and calmly explain how their reaction will not be tolerated, even under such circumstances. Attempt to stabilize the team member so that the team can come together again and process the news together as a group.

5. Communicate the next steps.

Provide clear and specific information about what will happen next, and how the team will adapt, the best it can, to the new circumstances.

6. Follow up and provide ongoing support.

After delivering the bad news, check in with the team regularly to see how they are doing, and provide support and guidance as needed.

Tip: Over the following days and weeks, as team members' initial heightened emotional states decline, do not mistakenly assume that this means that your team has properly processed the bad news. Add a recurring topic to your team meetings to discuss and address any persisting effects to ensure your team is moving forward, as effectively as possible, without ongoing, lingering consequences.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that the team receives the bad news in a way that is respectful, transparent, and supportive and is able to productively move forward to achieve their mission and objectives.

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