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Tag Archives: delivering bad news

How to communicate sensitive messages

TimBreithauptSometimes you will have to make decisions that will not be liked by your staff; it’s one of the responsibilities of leadership.  While you can’t avoid making unpopular decisions, there are things that you can do to help your team understand and accept the new reality.  Which is why I am so pleased to welcome today’s guest blogger.

Tim Breithaupt is first and foremost my professional colleague and friend, but he is also the founder and president of Spectrum Training Solutions. As a leading expert in the area of sales development, Tim delivers real-world wisdom to foster a level of sales confidence that boosts sales results to exciting new levels.  Today he joins us on the blog with some specific advice on how to communicate sensitive messages.

Communication is fraught with challenges at the best of times. Ample research suggests that managers and leaders struggle with the task of communicating sensitive messages.  One such example: unexpected changes to job descriptions and responsibilities. By tweaking your delivery (or as I like to say, your bedside manner), you will experience a smoother flow to your message and elevate your communication confidence. To that end I share a proven four-step model that helps to mitigate stress and communicate with impact. Continue reading

The right way to communicate unpopular decisions to your staff

Sometimes you will have to make decisions that will not be liked by your staff; it’s one of the responsibilities of leadership.  Sure, good leaders strive to minimize the fallout on their people, but sometimes doing the right thing for the company as a whole means hurting some of the individuals within it. Whether that means layoffs, reorganization, or even just a strategy shift, there are bound to be a few people who are put out by your decision. While you can’t avoid making unpopular decisions, there are things that you can do to help your team understand and accept the new reality. And that is the topic of my new column for ProfitGuide.com.  In The right way to communicate unpopular decisions to your staff, I offer five ideas to deliver the message, yet soften the long-term impact.

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What do you have to add to the list?  What specific things have you done to make sure people understand the implications, and to mitigate the ensuing damage?  Please share by commenting below.

P.S. I am now in my second year as a regular contributor to ProfitGuide.com’s panel of business experts. You can find links to my previous columns on their site. For your information, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, and their list of columnists reads like the Who’s Who of Canadian business, so I am honoured to be in such distinguished company.

How to break bad news to a client

In the world of business, things don’t always go according to plan.  Shipments can get delayed, production lines may break down, and unforeseen events might prevent people from getting the job done.  My latest column for ProfitGuide.com is titled How to Break Bad News to a Client.  In it, I lay out seven steps for when things just don’t go your way and you now have to tell your customers the unfortunate truth without jeopardizing your reputation and credibility.

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So do you have anything to add to my seven?  How have you handled the difficult situation of breaking bad news to a client?  Please share by commenting below.

P.S. I am so proud to be in my second year as a regular contributor to ProfitGuide.com’s panel of business experts. You can find links to my previous columns on their site. For your information, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, and their list of columnists reads like the Who’s Who of Canadian business, so I am honoured to be in such distinguished company.

Communicating decisions you don’t agree with – Tip #5

For the past three weeks, I’ve been video-blogging about what you can do as a leader when you find yourself charged with implementing changes or decisions that you don’t necessarily agree with. In the final analysis, you have a job to do, which means that you need to get past your own reservations and emotions and move forward with what you have been given responsibility for. In this final video in this five-part series, I lay out the final verdict.

So, in summary, here they all are listed below:

  1. Honestly assess where you are in the change response cycle
  2. Make sure you understand the reasons for the change
  3. Uncover your own reasons for resistance
  4. Identify the pain of not changing
  5. Take accountability for the decision anyway

Well, you now have them all. Agree or disagree? What did I miss? Please keep the conversation going.

Communicating decisions you don’t agree with – Tip #4

This is the fourth in a five-part series of short videos about what to do when you find yourself having to communicate or implement changes (made by senior management in your organization) that you don’t concur with.  Often, the unfortunate truth is that even if you don’t like it, the decision has been made and so you need to get over your own reservations and move forward.

Well?  Too harsh?  Or am I just being realistic? Would love to hear your Comments.

Communicating decisions you don’t agree with – Tip #3

For the last week, I’ve been offering specific ideas on what to do if you find yourself in a situation where you’re being asked as a leader to communicate or implement decisions that you don’t fully agree with yourself. Last week I gave you two ideas; here is one more.

So? Do you think it’s possible to be this honest with ourselves? I say “yes”, but others have told me otherwise. I would love to hear your perspective!

Communicating decisions you don’t agree with – Tip #2

Last blog post I started a five-part series of short videos focusing on how to rise past your own emotions when it comes to communicating changes or decisions in the workplace that you don’t necessarily agree with yourself. After all, it’s tough to sell something to your team if you’ve haven’t bought it yourself! Here’s idea #2.

Thoughts? Is this practical or unrealistic? Please share by adding a Comment below.

Communicating decisions you don’t agree with – Tip #1

As a leader, you’ll sometimes find yourself in the position of having to make unpopular decisions or communicate bad news to your staff.  And there will be times when these decisions are not of your making!  Which means that you can find yourself responsible for communicating and implementing decisions and changes that you don’t necessarily agree with.  Tough place to be: it’s hard to support and implement a decision if you don’t agree with it yourself!  So what can you do under such circumstances?  Continue reading

Give people “ripening” time when communicating difficult messages

If you’ve ever tasted a Hachiya persimmon, you’ve either loved it or hated it! And your sentiment would have been based on the maturity of the fruit. You see, ripe Hachiyas are soft, sweet and have a delicate flavour that is oh-so-silky-smooth. But the unripe Hachiya is the extreme opposite – unpalatably astringent – sort of like taking a bite out of an unripe bitter walnut while suddenly having your tongue and the inside of your cheeks turn furry as the moisture is drained out of every cell in the near vicinity of your mouth. The science behind this change in flavour is actually quite straightforward – the bitter and dry taste in raw Hachiya persimmons are caused by high levels of soluble tannins, but these same tannins evaporate as the fruit ripens. And one of the best ways to ripen persimmons is actually quite easy – simply expose the fruit to light, perhaps on a counter or window sill, for several days – and inedible and disgusting becomes succulent and delicious!

So whether you love or hate the Hachiya persimmon is actually all about your timing. In fact, if you think about it, that’s not unlike many of the difficult communication challenges you might face in the workplace. Often, your success (or lack thereof) in persuading or influencing others over to an unappealing point of view is all about timing as well.

Consider this for a moment. What if you were to put your idea or suggestion or recommendation “out there” and expose it to your various stakeholders for a few days before you pushed for them to accept it? Could the “ripening” time increase the palatability of the unpleasant decision? My experience has been that when I need to put forward recommendations that I know will not be easily accepted, it’s actually a very good idea to suggest them, and then wait for a few days as people react to the negative and assimilate the positive. Frequently, the “ripening” time helps people come to terms with the pluses and the minuses of the situation, and I often have much greater success in achieving the ultimate intended outcome. What’s been your experience?

How to communicate unpopular decisions and changes – live audio event on May 2

If you’re in a leadership position, then you know that it’s your responsibility to make tough decisions … but sometimes the changes that result don’t always sit well with your employees.  You certainly don’t want to alienate your team, but is it possible to communicate these unpopular decisions in such a way that your employees “buy-in” and negative responses are minimized? Absolutely!

And I can help! If you hesitate or struggle with delivering bad news, or if you’re unsure how to communicate unpopular changes to your team, then join me for one fast-paced and content-rich hour in which you’ll not only learn specific ways to communicate changes and decisions with openness and honesty, but also techniques to deal with negative employee responses.

Click here to register now

More than anything else, you need to be the boss that employees can trust, and I can show you how to develop and maintain your credibility so that you can create better working relationships and a more productive working environment.  And if you act by April 25, you can take advantage of early bird savings!

Here’s just some of what you’ll learn:

  • Six specific techniques to formulate and deliver your message so that your employees see and know that you’re communicating with openness and honesty
  • The one critical factor that will allow you to maintain credibility with your staff when the going gets tough
  • Six proven strategies to deal with the negative responses you might get from your employees
  • The well-known change response model, and how it gives you an insight into why people react the way they do when they are faced with negative changes
  • How to rise above your own conflicting emotions – it’s hard to support and implement a decision if you don’t agree with it yourself!

Join me on May 2, 2012 at 11 AM MDT. Early bird pricing in effect ONLY until this Wednesday April 25!

Click here to register, or for more information.