28 February 2024

12 Tips to Effectively Share Negative News with Employees and Stakeholders

By Ronald Smith

When it comes to delivering bad news to your staff and stakeholders, effective communication is essential. I’ve learned a few helpful tips along the way that can make this difficult task a little easier. Here are twelve strategies that you can use to share negative news with empathy and clarity:

1. Be direct and honest: It’s important to be straight to the point when delivering bad news. Avoid beating around the bush and be honest about the situation.

2. Choose the right time and place: Timing is crucial. Find a suitable environment and pick a moment when everyone can focus and have time for a conversation.

3. Plan your message: Before jumping into the conversation, take some time to plan what you want to say. This will help you present the news in a clear and organized manner.

4. Use clear and simple language: Avoid using complex jargon or technical terms. Instead, use plain and simple language that everyone can understand, especially at a 5th-grade reading level.

5. Show empathy: Put yourself in their shoes and acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that you understand and care about their concerns.

6. Be prepared for reactions: Negative news can trigger strong emotions. Be ready to handle different reactions and respond with patience and understanding.

7. Offer support and resources: Providing assistance and resources during challenging times can show your commitment to helping your staff and stakeholders navigate the situation.

8. Encourage questions and feedback: Create an open and safe environment for people to ask questions and share their thoughts. Welcome feedback and address concerns with sincerity.

9. Share the reason behind the decision: Help your audience understand the reasons behind the bad news. This can reduce confusion and create a sense of transparency.

10. Focus on the future: While discussing the negative news, also highlight potential solutions and future steps. This can help instill a sense of hope and forward momentum.

11. Follow up: After delivering the news, make yourself available for follow-up discussions. This shows that you are invested in finding solutions and supporting those affected by the news.

12. Learn from the experience: Take the opportunity to reflect on the situation and learn from it. Use the experience to improve your communication skills and approach for future situations.

Remember, effectively sharing negative news is never easy, but with these tips, you can approach the situation with empathy, transparency, and a commitment to supporting your staff and stakeholders.

12 Tips to Effectively Share Negative News with Employees and Stakeholders

I know it can be tough to share bad news with your team or the people who have a stake in your company. It’s important to find that perfect balance of staying calm and professional while also showing empathy when delivering the news.

To make things easier for you, the awesome folks at Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) gave their insights on how to handle this situation. They answered the following question:

When something goes wrong for the company, what’s one helpful tip for communicating that news to your staff and other important people? And why?

Here are their top tips:

1. Be Honest and Focus on the Good Stuff

It’s important to be open and honest right off the bat to show trust. Talk about the positive aspects and how the organization will grow because of the team’s response to the situation. We all face challenges on our way to success. It’s not about reaching the mountaintop, but how we handle those tough moments. So, let’s figure out our next move and give our people hope. ~ Shane Levinson, Carpets of Arizona

2. Let Your Employees Make Up Their Own Minds

When you have to deliver bad news, don’t assume that everyone will see it the same way you do – they might find something good in it! Take the time to listen to their response and understand their perspective. You might be surprised to find that they see an opportunity in the situation. Give them a chance to find the silver lining. ~ Jonathan Sparks, Sparks Law

When there’s a crisis or I have to deliver bad news, it’s really important for me to communicate as much as possible. It’s all about making sure that everyone is on the same page. I try to keep things simple and to the point, but I also make sure to emphasize the most important messages. And I always encourage questions and provide honest answers. It’s a two-way street, after all. This way, we can avoid any rumors or misunderstandings. ~ Vinay Indresh, Spacejoy

4. Talk Face-to-Face When Delivering Bad News

To share bad news, it’s best to do it in person or face-to-face. If that’s not possible, video conferencing is the next best thing. The key is to make it visual. Bad news is always tough to hear and share. That’s why it’s important to keep the communication flowing. When I share bad news, I make sure to involve myself and provide space for others to express their feelings and thoughts. It makes things a bit easier and helps ease any fear or confusion. ~ Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas

5. Share Everything Openly

6. Address the Situation Immediately

When something bad happens, it’s really important to take action right away. Don’t wait or avoid it – tackle it head-on. This will show your team and other important people that you are serious about finding a solution. It will also stop things from getting worse and build trust with your employees. – Adam Preiser, WPCrafter

7. Let Everyone Know Your Next Steps

Sharing bad news is tough, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it. So, I believe in being honest and direct with my team and stakeholders. But, I also think it’s important to let them know what I’m doing to make things better. I share my plan of action on how I’ll handle the situation if things don’t go as planned. This way, people understand what to expect from me and can make their own backup plans.

Step 8: What’s Next?

When I have to share bad news with my staff, I know it’s not an easy task. But as the owner of the business, it’s my responsibility. One way to handle it is by discussing the next steps after sharing the bad news. I guide my employees on what they should do next and how they can still have a positive career within the company. This shows them that I support them and helps them feel more at ease.

Breaking bad news is always challenging, but it’s crucial, no matter what industry you’re in. When you have to share bad news, take a moment to find the silver linings. When explaining the situation to your employees or stakeholders, add in some positive aspects so they see the whole picture instead of just negativity. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

10. Show Empathy

When your company faces difficult times, it’s important to approach the communication of bad news with empathy towards your staff and other important stakeholders. This will demonstrate that you understand their emotions and that you’re there to support them. Be open and honest, sharing as much information as possible about the situation. – Sujay Pawar, CartFlows

11. Provide Closure

Sharing bad news about the company can be tough. But hiding it won’t help anyone. I need to tell you the truth, without keeping any secrets. It’s important to be transparent with my team and provide as much closure as possible. This way, I can maintain strong relationships with my staff and other important people. With their support, we can bounce back from this setback. ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

12. Find Inner Peace Before Sharing the News