Delivering and Receiving Bad News in a Business

By | January 31, 2013

When you run a business you often deal with good new and bad news. Delivering and receiving bad news in a business can be difficult. Of course we’re all quite happy to deal with the good news. I once had a coworker that used to bounce up and down like a happy puppy asking “Can I tell them, huh, can I?” Good news is fun and we never beat around the bush with it. We get it out there as soon as we can.

Oh but the bad news. Ugh. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end. We know that so very few of us want to be the messenger of bad news. Sometimes it is received poorly, sometimes it is delivered poorly. Whatever the case most people just don’t want to deal with it.

But that’s a big problem when you’re running a business. If you order inventory from a manufacturer and they aren’t going to meet your delivery date, you need to know that. To often though the bad news is cushioned. Padded so the messenger feels better about giving the bad news. Even though the delivery is going to be 21 days late, you may hear “It will be there in a week or two.” If you plan around that, you’ve got problems.

The same thing can happen within your business. Employees aren’t working out as you hoped. The bank account is a little light this month. The dog chewed up your inventory sheets. Argh! All bad news to someone. But it isn’t tragic news, just bad news. And in some cases, maybe not as bad as you think.

The thing is, when you have bad news, just deliver it. Straight up. No blame. No judgement. No padding. An “I’m sorry” never hurt. Just get through the bad news to the other side. Once everyone is through it, you can make choices based on all the facts.

Don’t cushion, pad or pillow fight! Be nice, but be truthful. You might find out the bad news wasn’t really so bad after all.

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