The four questions you must answer when communicating difficult or unpleasant information to employees
Many managers make the mistake of assuming that there is a way to “soften the blow” — to make bad news feel better. They use words that express their personal regret (“I’m sorry … I wish there was another option”) or imply that forces beyond their control are causing their actions (“We are a victim of the credit crunch”).
Some will even seek shelter by associating themselves with others (“Every company in our market is facing the same decision”). While these words may in fact be true, they provide more solace and comfort to the giver than the receiver.
Whether directly or indirectly affected, employees require clear, unemotional information. They want to know what, why, when and how:
All other information, no matter how well-intentioned, is superfluous and may do more harm than good by confusing or overly complicating the message. The following are some commonsensical guidelines.
Communication planning is essential
Even when time is at a premium, it is critical to develop a plan and process for delivering the information to employees. The plan should include: