None of us have problems giving good news – we know that everyone will be happy to hear the news, and we can bask in the feeling of well being all round.
But no-one really want to be the bearer of bad news, all too often the messenger bears the brunt of the frustration of those that didn’t want to hear it.
However, sometimes a project may not be going to plan, criteria cannot be met or goals will not be achieved in the time allowed. It could well be your team unable to deliver, and it could be you who will be required to report on this bad news to management. If you wish to avoid being in the firing line what is the best way to go about it?
  • First of all make sure that you do know precisely the reason the required outcomes are not being met. Discuss this with your team and examine carefully the reasons. You then present these as facts and not as excuses; and then

  • Have some specific recommendations to offer to enable your team to bring the project back on track.

Being the ones involved in the failing project, this should give you and your team a practical insight into why the problems are occurring; and if you know why things are going wrong you should have some good ideas on how to get the project back on track.

The basic objective in this type of presentation is to let the facts speak for themselves – so you will need to:

  • Inform management of the specific issues which are causing the problems; is it lack of resources, unrealistic time frames, or inadequate training. Whatever it is be precise and give examples and never play the blame game.

  • Having outlined the problem now make recommendations for changes that you or your team feel will resolve the issue. Again be absolutely precise and specific. What needs to be done, who needs to do it and any changes this will entail to the original project criteria.

  • Now you will need to obtain management’s agreement and support for your recommendations.

By outlining the problems and offering thoughtful recommendations for resolution, having to deliver bad news need not bring down the wrath of management upon you and your team. Often if these reports are given timely they can save time and money which may be wasted in pursuing unrealistic goals.

To sum up the three point format is:

      1. Provide all the facts
      2. Do not assign blame to anyone
      3. Provide specific recommendations.

If you present the bad news in this manner, you can focus on the positive actions to be taken which is much more profitable, rather than engage in a fruitless search of ‘who to blame’, a sideline which is really only of benefit to lawyers.

Michele @ Trischel

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