Giving the boss bad news is never fun. But it’s a fact of life that things will go wrong sometime, so how do you impart bad tidings to a higher up without having it impact your career? (Hint: It doesn’t involve hiding in the supply closet.)
No one likes unpleasant surprises, and that includes your boss.
But when you have bad news about sales performance or a new product development, for example, your vice president wants to hear about it right away.
So how do you deliver bad news without it becoming a shoot-the-messenger scenario?
Jodi Glilckman, author of “Great on the Job,” says “it’s unrealistic to think that mishaps, miscommunications and outright screw-ups won’t happen. They will. The goal, therefore, is damage control.”
The key whenever there is bad news to deliver to the boss is not panicking (OK, you can panic for 5 minutes, but no more). But then you’ve got to figure out some solutions to present to the boss because most bosses don’t want to hear about problems, they want to hear about solutions.
And don’t even think of trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug, Glickman cautions.
“It’s not that hard to convince yourself that problems will disappear on their own if you just let them be,” she says. “But that strategy is akin to playing Russian roulette with your career – you have absolutely no way of knowing, much less controlling, the outcome.”
If you’ve got bad news to deliver to the boss, here are some ways to minimize the damage to your career and perhaps even garner some kudos for being good in a crisis:
Finally, you might want to consider findings from research that reveal it’s best to deliver bad news, then talk about something else for a bit before you mention a bit of good news. That helps the person who is hearing the bad news feel more upbeat.
So, after you reveal the bad news, transition to some other business and then end your meeting with telling the boss that a new customer, for example, just signed a five-year contract – or that she just won the lottery.
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