What do you do when you have to tell your staff information that you may not agree with? The following is an excerpt from Trust ME – Restore Belief & Confidence in an Uncertain World. It gives you tips on how to deliver difficult news.
What happens when you are a manager who has to deliver news that you don’t agree with? You may be caught in the middle between the staff who report to you and the boss you report to.
When this happens, there are things you can do prior to delivering the message that will make it more credible and less difficult to deliver.
Know how the decision was made and who was consulted in the making of the decision. Explain to your boss that you know there will be plenty of questions, and you want to understand all aspects of the situation, so you’re giving the correct information. Seek the rationale behind the decision. In some cases, you may find that the “C” suite didn’t have all of the information, and it may change the decision. Say to your boss, “Here are some of the questions they are going to ask,” and then list them, so they have a heads up.
Expressing to your boss all your questions and concerns might even have an impact on the decision being made. Also, talk to HR – they may know who will be affected and how they will be impacted.
As my Grade Seven teacher, Mrs. Hyslop used to say, “It’s not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Practice your delivery and watch your body language. If you go in with slumped shoulders, mumbling your words, and not making eye contact, you’re going to be sending a very mixed message. Even if this is a setback for the staff, there should be no ambivalence in your delivery and no opportunity for misunderstanding.
Be kind and caring but don’t sugarcoat the message. Since you’ve taken the time to find out all the reasons, you can share these with the staff but don’t give them grist for the gossip mill by telling them you disagree with the decision. That helps no one, including you, and doesn’t make it easier for them to accept what is happening. If you disagree, let the people who made the decision know your feelings but don’t share them with your staff.
Give people an opportunity to talk and ask questions and be prepared with the answers. Know all the steps the company took before making the decision. People are usually more accepting if they understand the process it took to get to this point.