How can I break bad news to my boss?
1. 1, 2, 3, off you go
Don’t bury your head in the sand! Even if it’s tempting to retreat and flee, don’t because this will only make things worse. Try and think ahead by going to talk to your boss as soon as you realize there’s a problem. This will highlight your ability to tackle problems head on.
2. Let’s meet at 11:30
Set up a formal meeting. Ask your boss to meet somewhere private and don’t tell them the bad news fleetingly or quickly mention it at the end of the conversation. This will give the boss the impression that the problem is only trivial. Request a meeting stating that you want to discuss a complicated issue. The foundations will then be set.
3. Stay objective
Lay down the facts without catastrophizing or leaving out important details. This is usually the kind of situation where you want to avoid any strong emotional reactions. Appear calm and this will hide how nervous you are. Be franc, transparent and recognize your part of the blame. With a bit of luck and understanding, your boss will think they are talking to someone who is responsible and trustworthy.
4. “I thought we could…”
To carry on being seen in a positive light and achieve your goals, trying to resolve the problem is essential! Suggest several different solutions and specific alternatives. This will allow you to show that you have taken time to calmly analyse the situation.
Editor’s opinion – What if it’s my boss whose delivering me the bad news?
At work, bad news happens, it comes and goes, it hits you hard! You want to cry, explode, run away… You know what we’re going to say: Keep your cool! Remain quiet rather than saying things you will only regret later on. Ask for another meeting at a later date to give yourself time to calm down and consider things with a cool head and in a pragmatic way in order to determine the best way for you to move forward in the long term.
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