Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Bad News


“Good news must travel fast, but bad news must travel faster” said Bill Gates. I don’t usually quote him, but I’ve prefaced my delivery of alarming news with this quote in more than one occasion. Sitting on bad news only undermines your position. It’s better to be able to control the message, and let others help you. You get points for the speed: taking more time to craft the news at the expense of promptness does not pay off as much as you’d think, because people’s expectation of your strategies to address the situation will also increase.

I have one exception to that rule: “No bad news on Fridays”, especially if the news is human resource related. No one wants to be told they are getting laid off, period, but especially on a Friday. As a supervisor, you might want to get the news off your chest before your weekend, but you’ve then ruined your staff’s weekend and they can’t take immediate action like making an appointment with employment agencies and filing paperwork related to unemployment. Perhaps it is a salary cut, or change in responsibility that the staff didn’t want. Delivering the news at the beginning of the week will allow them to have a followup appointment with you. That’s probably something you emotionally want to avoid, but what you think is best for you, isn’t necessary best for you in the long run, and certainly not the best for the staff, because a simple follow up meeting could clarify any misunderstanding before the situation escalates. Not providing this opportunity by scheduling an end of the week meeting to deliver the bad news only provides “stewing” opportunities for the staff.

So, in short, “good news must travel fast, but bad news must travel faster, except on Fridays”.

Photo: Beijing, China

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This entry was posted on April 17, 2015 by in Management and tagged , .
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