Don’t compound bad news with an even worse memo

Help your CEO effectively communicate layoffs, pay cuts, reduced benefits.

Help your CEO effectively communicate layoffs, pay cuts, reduced benefits

As the economy has continued its freefall, many CEOs and other executives have had to break bad news to their employees. CEO memos that recently have been made public, though, have demonstrated that there are effective —and not so effective — methods to share a negative message.

Don’t be short-sighted; executive memos are more than e-mails to “get us past the hard times.” Putting in the time and effort to craft a solid executive memo can enhance employee trust, raise expectations, and offer opportunities for further discussion.

1. Start at the top. Bad news should come from the most senior executive. That seems obvious, but what if your leader had just moved elsewhere? That didn’t stop new AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong when his Google colleagues were affected in late March. Not only did he send out the memo to the entire sales organization, but he also made sure that both he and Google executives would be present at an all-hands meeting to answer questions.

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