Big grinA couple of weeks ago, I published a column in the Northern Colorado Business Report, entitled The do’s and don’ts of sharing bad news.

It was interesting to hear peoples’ responses to this, mostly through individual discussions that I’ve had.  They seem to appreciate the suggestions on how deal with a rough situation, but always attached to a feeling of dread around whatever they’re dealing with right now.

It’s almost as if talking about this, itself, somehow creates the bad news.

So let’s look at the flip side.  We have occasions where we can talk about great things – company success, accomplishments, even personal events for your employees.

One of the core principles about bad news is to unflinchingly accept responsibility.  The flip side, for good news, is to generously give credit.  In both cases it needs to be honest, lest your people stop trusting you.  If there’s fifteen people who played a part in great sales last month, say it.  If possible, mention them by name.

For both good and bad news, you need to convey some sense of personal attachment.  If you regret having to give bad news, you should equally rejoice in great events.  This is a time for your people to see that you’re a human too.

In that other column I talked about the different points of view which people can have about any situation.  For instance, you might be overjoyed about landing that new big client.  But some of your employees might now be worried that they’re going to have to work much harder as a result.  You want to convey the positive message, then admit the challenges and other points of view, then reinforce again what’s positive:

“That accomplishment is great for the company.  Thank you for your hard work!  Now it’s true that we’re going to have a whole lot of work to keep the customer happy in the next month, because we’re a great team and we don’t want any mistakes.  But this is going to help catapult us into the league of the Big Guys, and maybe be able to hire some more people if this works out.”

With good news OR bad news, you’re playing in the territory of emotions.  Instead of avoiding showing your humanity, this is a time to let your best self shine through and then talk with people to address whatever comes up as a result.

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