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5 Tips for Communicating Disappointing News to Your Team.

Have you ever sat there and wondered to yourself, “How am I going to break this news?”

Just moments before, one of your best and most respected team members came into your office and informed you she has accepted an offer she couldn’t refuse and will be leaving the organization.  Or was it a routine meeting with a core client that turned not so routine when he informed you he will be discontinuing your services?  Perhaps the large account you were chasing has politely said, “No thanks,” and now you are asking yourself, “What next?

In truth, there is no shortage of ‘disappointments’ in the business world.  What is important is how you handle these moments. Will you and your team lose faith and become distracted? Or will you stay focused on organizational goals, the mission and ultimately the vision?

This is on you, the leader. How will you communicate with your team to help them make sense of the situation and stay focused on the vision? Here are 5 tips that can help:

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Be honest and transparent

People most often sense when something is amiss.  Withholding facts only encourages them to speculate, to fill in the blanks with incorrect information.   Instead of resolving itself, the situation actually lingers and even mushrooms.

On the contrary, when you are proactive and immediately tell your team that Jane has left the organization because she was offered more money, more ownership, or more flexibility at her new organization, you reduce the risks of speculation.  You allow the team to openly address the situation and thus put the organization in a better position to move forward.

Don’t undersell the disappointment

Your task does not stop at being honest.  Emotions come into play. Bad news evokes emotions. Recognize that everyone reacts to situations differently and let them feel how they feel.

Don’t try to convince your team it’s not a big deal if it really is. Let your staff be upset, let them be angry, let them be disappointed, but don’t let them be confused and uncertain. Give people a BRIEF amount of time to feel and express their emotions and then move the team and the organization forward.

Allow others to share input

Your team is valuable. They have experience, knowledge and insights. Utilize this. Ask them what they think. Like Jane, do they desire more money, more ownership and more flexibility with their schedule?

Are there any other underlying issues? Do team members have their own opinions of why the core client discontinued your services?

Now is a good time to bring to the forefront everyone’s concerns, issues and ideas. It is on you to turn this into an opportunity.

Connect with the vision

How does this relate to the vision? Does your organization strive to attract and hold onto highly talented team members? What can be changed to make sure that vision is reached? What needs to happen in the next year?

What’s next?

If you step back for a moment, you may realize that you now have a greater understanding of what you want to achieve, what this really entails, and how you will go about it.

Now, make sure your team also understands and is on board. Help them understand their role and make them aware of what they need to achieve in the coming days, weeks, months and year to reach the shared vision.

Are you trying to move your organization forward after a setback? Are things going good but you want to take the organization to another level of success? Are you in the Greater New York or Greater Philadelphia area? Contact us to set up a complimentary workshop for you and your team. 


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