The good news part is easy, but when we have to deliver bad news…not so easy. Help yourself by trying a few things to help relieve some of your own anxiety.
Get to it. Procrastination only makes it worse. Share what you know, when you know it. The more you wait, the more anxious you will get. Try to remember something in your life that you were very worried about, and when it actually happened, it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. As time goes on, you will probably feel the same way about this.
Look at the situation from every angle. Don’t sugar coat it, but look at the whole picture. If you can find something positive, share it first because once the bad news comes, people often find it hard to think of anything else or see it any other way. As a manager or leader, it’s your job to help your team navigate or move past difficult times. So the message has to be clear. Share the good, the bad, and the ugly; but make sure they understand all the perspectives. The more you can clearly articulate why it has to be this way, the easier it will be for them to move forward. If you are wishy washy, they may think there is a chance things will change. If that is not the case, don’t mislead them. Move on.
Don’t go on for too long. Let people ask questions. Quite often, the longer you talk, the worse it sounds. They most likely get it from the beginning and don’t need to hear the same thing in different ways. Let them find out what they really want to know about the situation. Emotions may run high, but that’s ok. If they feel safe to vent and let their emotions out then and there, with you, it is less likely they will go away and start venting to others which will only escalate the situation. Let them talk and resist the urge to try to “fix” everything. Be compassionate, but firm that you need to move on as a team and that you will get through it together.
Once the news is out, focus on the future. That’s the best way to keep the team motivated. Don’t focus on what you will not be able to do, focus on what you will be able to do.
Remember your job doesn’t end after the news is delivered. People will need time to process what you said, even wallow a bit, but not for too long. That’s where the demotivating can get you again. So stay engaged. Continue to take the temperature of the group and make sure there is no one wallowing too long and bringing the group down. The past is the past, we can’t change it. The future holds endless possibilities. We just need to motivate our team to think of what those new possibilities are.
Thoughts…….. Contact me at abbe@TECResourceCenter.com
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