Tell employees the truth: Don’t run from bad news

Avoiding bad news hurts the publication, makes the boss look foolish and sends the employees streaming for the exits.

You would think that declining sales and plummeting stock prices might persuade bosses to ditch the corporate-babble and speak plainly to employees.

So why do we get the feeling that we’re reading back issues of Pravda whenever we pick up most employee publications?

You remember Pravda—the daily propaganda sheet put out by the old Soviet Union? Think back to the 1980s: Factories closed daily, the centralized Communist economy threw millions into near starvation, and the arms race with the U.S. drained the Soviet treasury. But you wouldn’t know it if you read Pravda.

Every page of the newspaper described a worker’s paradise. The masses marched forward, fists raised in defiance, singing heroic songs and saluting the great leaders.

Now consider the headlines below from an employee publication. They appear in three consecutive issues of a quarterly employee publication. A very earnest-looking company executive—let’s call him The Supreme Leader—appears in the top left-hand corner.

You need to hunt for the rare sentence conceding that sales have fallen in some divisions. Instead, the emphasis is on how great we all are. Onward to triumph, oh worthy employees!

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