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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The Worst Boss You Ever Had


Could Teach You A Few Things

Over 30 years ago, I had a boss who regularly came in and yelled at the staff.  For no reason.  He just vented his anger at the world onto his staff.  And yet he was brilliant, creative,  andvery effective at sales.  But he was not so good at managing and retaining employees.  No matter how terrific the rest of the job is, if you’re being screamed at for no reason, that verbal abuse will drive you away. Few people can tolerate constant demeaning.
Here’s what I learned from him:
• NEVER be a yeller.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days when you’re stressed and frustrated, but don’t take it out on the people you work with.  If you’re that upset, go for a walk, go workout, get in your car with the windows up and yell there.  Just not at people.  Ever.  Really. It’s abusive.
• Positive specific praise and reinforcement goes a long way. Most people like public recognition and like being told specifically what they did well.  If you really want to thank someone, give them a written note as well; these are rare and amazingly effective. Sticky notes work, too.

• Financial reward only works so far
.  Continual humiliation, denigration, verbal abuse and difficult work environment will drive out even the most dedicated achievers away.  If you want to retain good people, treat them well.
Find out what is important to them and reward accordingly.

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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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Make the Most of Your Millenial Employees

Shaking handsMillenials are one of the fastest growing employee groups worldwide, and they have the most customer interaction of any age segment. Managers often wonder how to motivate them, since they crave flexibility and meaning.  Here are a few tips from expert Jason Dorsey:

• Give them at least 10 seconds of specific feedback a month from a senior person (they like communication)
• Make their first day at work memorable; start them on a less stressful day than Monday and pair them with a same gender peer for the office tour (they’ll ask better questions)
• Honor their birthday in a special way as they like to celebrate all month long
• Coach them to ask for opportunities to demonstrate their potential; they want to grow and move up

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

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Expect the Best of Others at Work and at Home

Are Looking for the Good or the Bad?

Remember the astonishing statistic that 88% of American workers NEVER receive thanks for the work they have done?  Some managers expect the worst of their employees.  They are constantly micromanaging them, looking for errors, hoping to catch them in a mistake.  This is one of the most destructive ways to lead.  Daniel Pink’s book Drive cites studies that show employees want autonomy, competence (the ability to improve) and a sense of purpose to their work.  State very clearly in writing what you expect of your people, review it with them so they understand. Show them the purpose and meaning behind their work. Support and empower them to do their jobs and expect them to succeed.

The same is true at home.  Expect the best of your children; don’t be suspicious and fearful. Let them know you believe in them, and their abilities.  Become their cheerleader in all areas.  You’ll be astonished at the results.


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

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Stress Express Tip: Sick Days Are Legitimate

My husband got a bad cold a while back, after working long hours and battling  substantial stress. In the last decade, he has very seldom taken a sick day.

Exhausted womanBut twice, he went to work, came back and went to bed. He just didn’t have the energy or strength to worry about anyone but himself.

And it was the right thing to do.

We are workaholics in this country. So many people never take vacations and end up sick, burnout and bitter.  That leads to increased illnesses or worse.

Sick days are legitimate.  If you or your employees are truly ill, recovering from surgery or a disease, contagious or absolutely exhausted, sick days are appropriate.  Having that time to get  rest and medicine, removed from the constant stress in life and the workplace, makes a huge difference.

And for those of you who employ many people, know that an appropriate sick day can save you thousands of dollars in health insurance claims, workers comp claims, and employee replacement fees.  It costs 1.5 times a person’s salary to replace them, according to Merck.  If a worker feels they can never call in sick when they need to, they will find another job. Take good care of yourself and your people and everyone wins.

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

Fire Up Your People By Including Them

Appreciate Your Employees & Give Them Feedback

In a study conducted by USA Today a few years back, the top three things that employees want are: interesting work, appreciation and being “in” on things. The U.S. Dept. of Labor said  46% of all people who quit do so because they felt they are not appreciated for the work they do.  And James Howard discovered that when asked what their boss or supervisor says when they finish a task or project, 92% said their supervisor said nothing!  88% of Americans say they are never thanked for their work.

What all this data means is that employees are HUNGRY for positive feedback.  And so are we as human beings.  We have a tendency to be very hard on ourselves and judge ourselves severely.

Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, says humans are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Sometimes, the greatest  thing you can do in a given day is give your employees or co-workers a few minutes of sincere, specific praise. Try something as simple as “Thanks for the good work on that project” or “I really appreciated your comments in the meeting today-they were valuable.” All too many employers save up their kind words for bonus time, instead of sharing them throughout the year.  Connect their work to the greater purpose they have, give them greater control over what they do, and help them become better at it.

Employees hate to be ignored, to be left out, and to feel unappreciated.  Be sure you take excellent care of your people, or you may lose them.


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