Do You Encourage Communicating Bad News?

By |Published On: March 12, 2014|

“I have some bad news”.

What’s your reaction when you hear this phrase from a co-worker?  I’ll tell you mine – I get a lump in my throat, a strange feeling in my gut, my palms start to sweat, my heart beats a little faster.  I probably even roll my eyes and exhale loudly sometimes.

Most people don’t like to receive bad news.  I’m certainly no different.  But great leaders DO want to hear bad news, in fact, they encourage it, they seek it out.  Why?

Because if they learn about it before it becomes a result, they can impact it.  Even if it’s become a result, the earlier they learn about it, the better they can react to it.  Check out this article about how leaders should handle bad news.

I love the analogy to the “ugly sweater”.  Bad news is like an ugly sweater.  Great leaders wear the ugly sweater by asking questions encouraging openness and honesty among their employees.  Great leaders don’t ask, “How are things going?”, they ask “What challenges do you have right now?”.

Think about that later today when you’re in a staff meeting or having a one-on-one conversation with one of your employees.  Ask them some leading questions to encourage them to share bad news they’re aware of or anticipating.  At first, you may break out in a cold sweat, but keep a smile on your face and let them think you are pleased to be learning this in time to address it.

I’m going to try it.


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