How to Deliver Bad News in a Good Way

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but ignoring an issue and not providing critical feedback can hinder your team's growth and learning. Michelle Gielan, Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, conducted a study to learn how to counteract the negative effects of bad news at work, and identified three simple principles.

How to Deliver Bad News to Your Team

  1. Don’t ignore bad things. Did your team rate low in engagement scores or low sales numbers this quarter? Don’t hide that information from them. Instead, address the problem, but then couple it with actionable solutions.
  2. Brainstorm solutions together.  If the answer to a problem is not immediately obvious, then involve the entire team in solving it. Bringing everyone into the discussion will empower your team instead of making them feel like helpless recipients of criticism.
  3. Remind your team of all the good they’ve done. The quickest way to turn around a team with low morale is to remind them of all their accomplishments. Looking back to see how far the team has come and attributing that success to them can inspire pride and ownership. Plus, this can help build momentum so your team can face new challenges with more confidence.

Takeaway: Sugarcoating a problem can be just as damaging to your team’s progress as bluntly pointing them out. Instead, empower your team to solve problems together and keeping moving forward.

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