Communicating Bad News
Scenario: You are a middle manager at a large technology organization, and leadership has informed you that the company will be going through a reorganization. The company has been losing revenue for too long and immediate action is necessary. A mass downsizing is impending.
Your job is not in jeopardy. However, you will lose team members in the downsizing. Your team members are panicked and you need to step up to address the issue with them. You also need to maintain productivity and results.
You call a meeting to discuss this with your team. This is not an easy message to communicate.
Considering the course materials for this week, discuss your approach by addressing the questions below:
- What is your communication strategy with your team?
- How often will you provide communication with your team about updates? Remember, you need to keep them informed, but not panicked.
- How will you get your key message across while keeping your team productive?
- What can you do to reduce the challenges of distraction and the rumor mill for your team?
Post your initial response by Wednesday, midnight of your time zone, and reply to at least 2 of your classmates’ initial posts by Sunday, midnight of your time zone.
RE: Week 6 DiscussionCOLLAPSE
Communicating Bad News
Organizations usually experience changes that bring about the disruption of the working environment, impacting even the employees. For example, the process of reorganization creates many disruptions in almost all firm departments, which has an outcome that affects the working personnel. For this reason, organizations must understand what it means to approach change and ensure that the changes do not leave an adverse impact on employees. Managers are the main parties responsible for ensuring the working personnel is informed about such changes as reorganization. Nonetheless, the passage of information to employees requires applying a communication strategy that suits the exchange. Particularly, the communication of bad news is easily done if the manager creates a communication strategy.
Several communication strategies can be used in communicating bad news in organizations. However, the communication strategy that I would use as a middle manager entails three aspects, including knowing my audience, assuming responsibility, and being accessible. To begin with, knowing my audience refers to understanding my team members and how they act as the core step in communicating bad news. Understanding that they have different personalities will help me carefully approach the information process (Carey, 2014). Secondly, assuming responsibility involves being ready to answer the team members’ questions and being accountable for the circumstances. Lastly, the communication strategy requires me to be accessible by ensuring I attend to employee concerns and offer constructive feedback.
Providing Updates Timeline
The introduction of changes in an organization comes with a period of uncertainty among team members, which may undermine their efforts in performance. Such circumstances call for a constant updating of the employees and letting them know what is happening in the firm. For this reason, as a middle manager, I will do everything I can to provide my team members with a weekly update regarding the reorganization. Additionally, I will tell them to be ready for some changes that may not be what they expected.
Getting my Key Message Across
Getting my message across depends on the things I will do as I attempt to communicate with my team members. For example, I will have to be as specific as possible regarding what is happening in the organization and what may happen in the future. Being specific lets, the members know what is happening and how it will turn out. Secondly, being inclusive when providing employees with updates about the situation will be helpful in ensuring that every member gets the intended message. Being inclusive is beneficial because it shows the team members that they matter and the organization is thinking about them. Additionally, I will also attempt to connect with them emotionally while passing the information.
Reducing Distraction and the Rumor Mill
Rumors and certain distractions may come up in an organization during transformation, mostly fueled by a climate of uncertainty. However, reducing these elements is easy if a manager commits to the process. First, I will ensure I set an example to the team members by providing them with confirmed top-level management information. I will avoid talking about things I am unsure of and stick to what is true (Schwantes, 2017). Secondly, I will encourage the members to have positive information-sharing rather than distractions and rumors. Furthermore, enacting zero-tolerance policies on rumors and other distractions can minimize them.
Carey, R. (2014, March 07). Crisis Communication Strategies for Managing Negative Events. Retrieved 26 January 2021 from https://www.middlemarketcenter.org/expert-perspectives/3-crisis-communication-strategies-for-managing-negative-events
Schwantes, M. (2017). Ways to Get Rid of Workplace Gossip Immediately. Retrieved 26 January 2021 from https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/if-you-do-these-things-you-qualify-as-a-gossiper-which-research-says-can-ruin-yo.html
RE: Week 6 DiscussionCOLLAPSE
Hello Professor Leighton-Lucas and Classmates,
Let me start by saying I have been in this situation before. I have had many positions throughout my life, so it seems that I have experienced many things, as I have. This conversation is never easy and being on the receiving end is even worse. You worry and wonder if your productivity has been good enough to keep your job. Some organizations are bad at communicating in non-crisis situations and worse during an actual crisis. Downsizing creates anxiety and impacts morale and productivity, ultimately affecting the customer (Bell,1).
The communication strategy would be first to start with the company’s vision and its determination to stay competitive in the market. Understanding why the organization is downsizing and what the other options were besides eliminating staff. Communicating all of this to my team before the news goes public and reaches social media will help combat some of the uncertainty. Once the information goes public, the employees with panic. As their manager, I need to be truthful, consistent, and present. If I stay calm, it will ease their fears and the pressure of the situation. I also must let the team know that I understand their struggle and frustrations and ensure them that communication is ongoing, and I will be truthful and keep them in the loop as details become available (Bell, 1).
Corporate layoffs are unfortunately common and indicate political or economic instability or both (Nystrom, 2). Companies will help employees who were let go but will forget about the employees that remain with the company. These employees still must be motivated and productive despite dealing with heightened pressure to perform. If they are not motivated and their concerns are not addressed, they may seek other employment opportunities. I would help my team stay motivated and productive by enhancing transparency and spending more time listening and interacting with them while having an open-door policy for visibility. I would emphasize how valued they are while setting new goals and redistributing the responsibilities not to get employees overwhelmed. Holding team building activities to help release the stress and anxiety would give temporary relief (Nystrom, 2).
Working to keep employees productive and motivated while keeping rumors away would be difficult. Rumors can be more debilitating than the truth, and they have a way of stirring negative emotions (Watson, 3). The best way to not allow rumors to control the situation is to get ahead of the stories with communication and clear facts to the team. Maintaining a level of control while projecting positivity, shows your team that you are optimistic, and they should also be.
- C.M.Bell. January 11, 2018. 14 Tips on Communicating with Employees During Layoffs, Mergers, or Other Times of Change. https://www.cmbell.com/blog/2018/1/11/14-tips-on-using-internal-communication-to-preserve-employee-engagement-during-layoffs-or-other-hard-times
- Michelle Nystrom. February 24, 2020. Keeping the Remaining Team Motivated During Tough Times. https://www.cmbell.com/blog/2018/1/11/14-tips-on-using-internal-communication-to-preserve-employee-engagement-during-layoffs-or-other-hard-times
- Steven A. Watson. June 17, 2003. Sharing Info and Defusing Rumors Helps Keep Staff Motivated During Layoffs. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/sharing-info-and-defusing-rumors-helps-keep-staff-motivated-during-layoffs/