Kindlings: How to Deliver Bad News

A common issue I have encountered working with hundreds of speaking and training clients all over the US is failure to deliver bad news in a timely manner.

Most people don't deliver bad news because they are afraid of the reaction.  They know the co-worker, employer or customer will be unhappy, maybe even angry. And yet all of those reactions are so much worse the longer you delay.  There are keys to delivering bad news quickly in a way that's designed to minimize fallout and prevent big reactions.

What to Do:

• Prepare  Do your homework. Get as much information as you can. Get all the facts and have solutions to the issue already in mind.

• In person and timely  If at all possible, go and deliver the news in person and do it immediately.  Never deliver bad news in snail mail or email. It's cowardly.

• Be direct, clear and honest  Tell them exactly what's happening, why and what you can do about it.

Demonstrate Empathy and Compassion  Acknowledge that this is upsetting to them.  Truly listen and say things like, "I understand."

Show them a way out- a positive solution. Spend most of the conversation on the solution and how this will help them.  If you don't have one, brainstorm with them about possible ways to resolve the issue.

• Key words to avoid and to say instead (from Kristin Robertson, KR Consulting)

AVOID THESE                                 SAY INSTEAD

“ You should”                         “We can do this together- let me show you”

“ You can’t”                            “One alternative for you would be”

“ I can’t”                                 “Here’s what I CAN do for you”

“ No”                                      “I’m sorry- that’s not possible because”

Always reference what’s in it for them.

Listen fully and correct any misunderstandings.  Get your information and promises correct and keep them to the letter.

Ask for their continued support and willingness to work with you. Express your sincere desire to have an ongoing positive relationship and ask them to give you the chance to make it right.

All of us face challenges and problems in our businesses, and we all have bad news to give at some time.  The way you do it makes all the difference in the outcome.

 

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Leaders and Sacrifice

"Leadership is about inspiration-of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership...is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others."-
Lance Secretan

Simon Sinel bookIn his new book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek says leaders must sacrifice for their people. They must be willing to put the needs of others before their own needs. It's a choice: to look after the person on either side of us.

What Leaders Must Sacrifice:

• Micromanaging
Hire good people, trust your people, and check progress when appropriate. Having authority over their work is a key indicator for employee happiness. Give it to them and praise them when they've done well. Demonstrate your confidence in them.

• Self-Interest and Ego

Get in the trenches and work with your people at all levels. I read a story about a CEO who had succcessfully grown the business, and while it was doing well, sales had plateaued. He was advised to go down on the factory floor every week and spend time with his people, getting to know them. In six months, his profits took off because his people knew that he cared. They delivered better, faster service and higher quality. People respond when you know you care about them.

• Saving Face at the Expense of Your People
If you don't back your people up when they are in crisis or conflict with vendors, clients, etc., then you send a very clear message of fear and mistrust. When you say you will support your people in difficult times and then fail to, your employees feel betrayed and abandoned. They will resent you and become cynical and fearful. None of that leads to high performance.

• Looking Good to Stockholders
At Next Jump in NY, CEO Charlie Kim spends significant money developing people- on training programs and mentoring- much to the chagrin of his investors. However, the results proved themselves and delighted stockholders. Many firms in this industry have double digit turnover rates, which can cost millions to replace. (Industry averages 150% of a person's salary to replace them.) Because of the investment Charlie makes in his people, turnover is low single digit, and the quality of innovation, problem-solving capability, loyalty and engagement at the company have soared.

Keep expanding your capability as a leader! You will inspire others.

 

 

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©2014 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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How Leaders Fail

"Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations." Peter F. Drucker

The Biggest Mistakes Leaders Make

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-hard-day-image22576797Breaking agreements and not keeping promises
Other people assume a promise from a leader will be kept. And when you fail to follow-through on any level, it breaks trust. It creates dis-ease and mistrust on all levels and calls into question your credibility. Don't make commitments you can't keep. Renegotiate them, delegate them, but do not break promises.

• Emotional outbursts. I had a boss who screamed at everyone, for no reason. I've seen other leaders do this, and all it does is alienate others around you. DO NOT VENT on your staff. They deserve better. Go to therapy, work out, get the anger out before you come to work.

• Lack of empathy: Not understanding how your people feel after a work crisis, not giving them comp time when they have worked overtime for many days, not being compassionate when your people have a family emergency. You must demonstrate compassion. Your staff are first and foremost people; treat them with respect and caring.

• Not Giving Appreciation or Praise
70% of American workers are actively disengaged. 88% of American workers NEVER receive thanks for the work they have done!  There's a correlation. Praise people specifically in writing for a job well done. Say thank you publicly to others for their work. Express your thanks often.

• Not Being Transparent
More than ever, leaders need to tell the truth and address fear and rumors. Even if you can't tell the whole story, acknowledge that yes, change is happening, and you are doing everything in your power to resolve issues quickly. Update your people often. Acknowledge their worries and be honest in responses. Maintain an optimistic approach and keep them updated every step of the way.

 

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No More Excuses

Overwhelmed man with too much work from Stress ExpressNot long ago, I met a gentleman who was downtrodden and beleaguered. He explained to me all the reasons his business was not doing well and declared that he was just no good at that Internet stuff.  He also went on to say he had avoided a certain market because he was afraid what they might do.  He had all the perfect excuses for why he couldn't succeed. I felt sorry for him and had compassion for him.  But ultimately, he made his own choices and he is now sitting in his discontent.

Excuses- we all make them and we all have them.  And ultimately, they mean nothing. NOTHING.  They are just rationalizations as to why we think we can't do something.

In this man's case, he could have taken courses to learn the Internet,  hired a college kid to do it for him, or used his own kids.  There are so many different ways he could overcome his fear of the Internet but instead, he just gave up.

Don't give up.  And NO MORE EXCUSES!

You can overcome almost any challenge.  Ask for help. Take courses. Check and see if your assumptions are true.  Network with others in your field and learn how they handle these issues.  Just don't sit around whining. Take action to overcome these challenges.

I once heard Christopher Reeves speak  after his debilitating accident.  He talked about control and how he had lost so much of it when he became paralyzed.  But then he realized the one area he could take control was how he treated his caregivers.

If someone like that can take control, take action and move forward, you can, too.

 

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Asking For Help is Smart

Don't Deny Others the Chance to Assist

Holding the hand of anotherRecently, I heard from a  friend in the hospital who is critically ill.  She had been there for 5 days and was calling to let me know.  I was so grateful to know what was going on, to be able to pray for her and check on her.  I only wish she had let me know sooner. Another dear friend recently learned he has cancer, but reached out to me weeks after the diagnosis.  Those are weeks I could have been there for him, helping him sort through solutions, fear and pain.

Most of us have a tendency to put others first, and to not ask for help. And that's a mistake.  Martyring ourselves by saying we don't want to bother others or trouble them denies us the gifts of love and support.  We also deserve help, especially in difficult times.

Some people prefer to go off and isolate themselves while they figure things out,
and I respect that.  However, isolation can lead to depression and negative thinking, at a time when loved ones could provide compassion and understanding. Scientists have shown that reaching out to other people during a stressful event is an effective way to improve your outlook.  So your perspective could improve dramatically.

You never know- you might get some great solutions to problems you are having, connecting you with valuable resources you never knew existed.  Share your life, share with your loved ones, and allow yourself to be supported. You are worthy of it.

To sign up for Snowden’s ezine newsletter on stress, happiness, marketing and motivation, please go to: http://firedupnow.com/firedupemailregister.html

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Add “New” to Fire Up! Your Life

Keep Your Life Fresh by Trying New Things

Brendon Burchard in his new book The Charge has some great suggestions about staying Fired Up!  Something you may not have thought of is trying new things.  The brain is hardwired for novelty and challenge and needs to be engaged to keep thriving.  Here are a few ways to incorporate new into your life:
 
• 90 day getaway - every 90 days go away and explore someplace you have not been, doing new activities. It does not have to be expensive- it just needs to be different.
 
• Restaurant tour; explore restaurants you have never visited, try different kinds of food

• Spend time with new people - go to different networking or social events and broaden your circle. 
 
• Develop new skillsets - my husband and I just installed a new glass tile backsplash in our kitchen.  It was challenging but fun, and we love the results.
 

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

Stress Tip: Ask for What You Want

At Work, At Home, Made Your Needs Clear

Exhausted woman from Stress Express!So many times, we get upset because someone did not do what we wanted how we wanted it, and we did not get our needs met. The easiest way to overcome this is to be crystal clear about what you want and ask for it. Most people are grateful to have clarity and to know how to help and support you.  They want to participate in your life but may not know how.

I have found at home that my wonderful husband cannot read my mind. So I ask, "The garbage is really smelly- could you please take it out now?"  He responds very well to requests. (Rather than complaints- most of us are like that.)

When you are swamped at work, at the end of your rope and so stressed, you are snapping at others, ask for help.  Try a  request like " This week is going to be difficult for me because I am overwhelmed with the new regulations. Could you please help me by following up on the___ project?  I don't want to slow down our progress.  Thanks so much for your assistance with this."  Others will be happy to help when you clue them in.

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

Sales Tip: Overcome Objections by Leading with Them

Take a Tip from PR Specialists

Fired Up presenterIf you've ever watched a scandal unfold, you've seen how well or poorly it can be handled.  Most PR professionals believe in breaking an imminent story first, so that they can control the message and lead with the truth.  That's good advice for sales as well.

If you know there is an obvious question or objection to your product or service,
after you have carefully listened to your prospects needs and concerns, control your message by overcoming any objections up front.  Lead with them, show why they are not true and give real case studies that back up what you say. Be relaxed and confident about any objections, not defensive or reactive.  That's a position of strength and integrity, which positions you well versus your competition.

Take the time to truly study your competition, know your strengths and weaknesses and anticipate any possible objections. Overcome them with courage and data; it will serve you well.

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©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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The Power of Choice: Stand in Your Power

Say No

There are so many times in our lives when we can choose to be courageous, strong, and live in our integrity, and there are times when some of us do not.
Regardless of peer or political pressure in any situation, you ultimately have yourself and God to be accountable to.  Live in the authentic nature of who you are, make decisions and take actions that resonate with you  and your values, and you will always be able to respect yourself.  There are infinite opportunities to do the right thing and be the best you can be.  Choose wisely.

 

“To win or lose,
To love or hate,
To try or quit,
To risk or withdraw,
To accelerate or hesitate,
To dream or stagnate,
To open or close,
To succeed or fail,
To live or die.
Everyone of these starts with a CHOICE.”
Snowden McFall

 

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©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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Fire Up Your Marketing with Genuine Testimonials

 Use Longer, Meaningful Testimonials for Impact

We've all seen the phony sounding TV commercials with hackneyed phrases that don't ring true. That is not good advertising. It turns us off. What is highly effective is the use of authentic customer testimonials which are highly specific about the value received.

At Brightwork, my ad agency,  we regularly call our clients' customers to ask them the right questions to ascertain this value. . That often will yield powerfulmarketing information that the client was not even aware of.   Then we get written permission from the customer to use the testimonial in all marketing for the client, noting that no compensation will be provided for this usage.  That legal document can be important. Real testimonial quotes like these can make a substantive difference in your Internet presence, brochures, direct mailers and websites.

Consider this one, for example:

Fired Up sales person"I've worked with a dozen realtors and Sue Bird is by far the best.  She constantly stayed on top of every detail in our deal... She saw the entire transaction through from start to finish...even staying in touch after the sale tobe sure I was satisfied.  In a day when incompetence is rampant, Sue is refreshing.  Her confidence and knowledge made me feel comfortable.  She has great expertise and I will definitely use her again." Dan O'Brien

Some people think short one liner testimonials are better- such as 'Sue did a great job."  I disagree.  Meaningful testimonials which speak to value received are much more powerful.  Consider this with your marketing- and here's a tip- have someone else interview your clients.  It's difficultto do this effectively for yourself.

 

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 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference.