In these difficult times, many companies are having to deliver bad news to their employees. In such uncertainty, it can be hard to know the right or wrong way to go about doing this. To help make the process as painless as possible, we have put together some guidelines that can help you along the way.

Make sure you come prepared 

Anticipate the questions that your employees are likely to have. Think about what you would want to know if you were in your employees’ shoes. It is important that you show that you have done your due diligence – if you go out there and show that you have no idea what is going on, you will communicate that you do not really care about the situation and there will be no confidence in the company’s leadership. 

Be clear and direct

You may not have all of the answers right now – and that is okay. Be honest about what you know and do not know. If there is still important information that is up in the air, tell your employees that you are actively working on getting those answers and that you will get back to them by a certain date. You should also remember your non-verbal cues. If you want your employees to have confidence if your company’s leadership, you need to directly communicate and not leave any room for question or error.  

Be transparent, but loyal

Your employees know that sometimes companies have to make difficult decisions; they are intelligent and will understand this, so long as you provide your reasoning. There could be a situation where you do not personally agree with the company’s decision. If this is the case, share your misgivings with your higher-ups, not your employees. When you communicate this information to your team, it needs to seem like the decision was made as a united front, otherwise, you could give the impression of disorganization or instill false hope that something will change. 

Welcome conversation and misgivings

When you deliver bad news, you can anticipate that people are going to be upset. Make sure that your employees have an outlet for this. Take the time to listen to their misgivings (but, as mentioned above, it is important that you do not share your own). Understand that people might need time to process things; let them know who they can reach out to and when. 

Focus on moving forward

When you deliver the bad news, you need to end with clear next steps. Let your employees know what they can expect next. This will help give your team some sense of control, which can help curb concern or anger. 

It is never fun to have to deliver bad news to your employees. But by following the guidelines outlined above, you can make sure that the process is as seamless and respectful as possible. 


Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash