How to Receive Bad News as the Boss

By | June 2, 2015

I’ve heard employees say many times how they fear giving the boss bad news. The good boss encourages the staff to keep him in the loop on what may not be going according to plan. The first step to fixing the problem is knowing there is a problem in need of being fixed. When a boss leads by intimidation or fear, the unreported problems fester, incubate, and turn into disasters over time. Eventually, the intimidating boss looks for whom to blame and states, “Heads are going to roll.” This is the fastest way for a boss to cut off communications.

The good boss realizes that hearing about bad news, mistakes, or misinterpretations when they happen should be viewed as important pieces of information. The sooner the good boss is informed, the quicker a solution can be reached. This is the difference between a course correction and disaster. For a good boss the course correction is an expected part of daily business because nothing goes exactly as planned. With the pace of business today, reaction and adjustment on the fly are to be expected.

Intimidation or fear are disruptive to the process of achieving success. The good boss knows the reaction to bad news is to focus on the solution, and then diagnose what went wrong in order to prevent it from happening again.  The messenger of the bad news should never feel wrath, regardless how bad the news is.

How do you handle receiving bad news?

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