Project managers need to be able to calmly and professionally deliver bad news, when it happens, ranging from missed budgets and deadlines to team layoffs. Here are five tips for improving the delivery of bad news.
- Don't surprise, delay, or hide it. Deliver the news promptly. Make an appointment and set the agenda for a face-to-face meeting, if at all possible.
- Be prepared. Don't wing it or deliver off-the-cuff; write out a draft and stay on script. Preparation will keep you from getting caught up in negative emotions.
- Focus on facts and figures and take responsibility. Provide the reasons for the bad news, and don't make it about you or anyone else personally.
- Be empathetic. Listen carefully to any responses and ask those involved about their feelings. Follow up again a day or so after the delivery.
- Offer alternatives. Have suggestions for moving forward in a positive manner or positive next steps that could be taken. Deliver on any promise made.
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