Seven Tips For Breaking Bad News To Your Boss

Mistakes happen. Technology may fail. Projects may run late or over budget. Whatever the situation may be, it’s tough when you need to deliver bad news to your boss. Even if you have a solid relationship, you may feel uneasy going into the conversation. You don’t want to disappoint them or lose their trust. And if you’re new to your team, you don’t want your boss to think less of you or question your ability to do your job.

So, how do you share bad work-related news and keep your reputation intact? According to Suzi McAlpine, a leadership coach and award-winning blogger, you can follow a few simple tips that will help you deliver the news with aplomb and skill.

Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, where we discuss McAlpine’s suggestions for delivering bad news at work.

1. Plan your communication. Before going to your boss, it’s a good idea to think about the problem’s impacts. When you position the problem concisely and effectively, you can better frame the conversation, says McAlpine. Also, consider the timing. You shouldn’t drop bad news before your boss goes into a high-stress meeting.

2. Say what you need to say. Instead of beating around the bush, just share the news. And don’t wait, as this can sometimes make it worse. If your boss hears the news from someone else, bad news could become terrible news, notes McAlpine. As soon as you find out about a mistake or a delay, start forming your initial communication to your boss, she suggests.

3. Take accountability. When you make a mistake, don’t try to downplay it or blame it on someone else. Own up to it and accept responsibility.

4. Consider possible solutions. When you have to break bad news to your boss, you should always have some ideas for next steps or possible solutions. At the very least, McAlpine says you should outline key learnings. Things didn’t go as planned, but what did you learn and how can you keep it from happening again?

5. Think about it from your boss’ perspective. How do you think your boss would prefer to hear the news? Do they want to hear about the end result first, or would they prefer a lead-up to the issue and plenty of details? McAlpine advises communicating in a way that meets your boss where they are.

6. Keep things in perspective. No one like to mess up. It’s embarrassing and can damage your relationship with your boss. But chances are, the mistake isn’t an absolute catastrophe. Strive to be professional and upfront with your boss when breaking bad news. It may not be easy, but you’ll learn from the situation.

7. Make regular reporting the norm. While this tip isn’t necessarily about breaking bad news to your boss, it’s a reminder you can adopt before things run amok. McAlpine notes that when you create reporting tools for key success factors, you can see the early signs of when things are going off track.

When you make a mistake a work, remember to have a plan when informing your boss. Take responsibility for the issue and come up with some potential solutions. And remember to keep the situation in perspective—it may not be as bad as you think. By handling the issue properly, you may even gain greater respect from your boss.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Suzi McAlpine is a leadership coach, award-winning blogger and keynote speaker. She runs the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest.

filed under September 2021
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