34 Breaking bad news

Breaking Bad News

Learning Objectives :

  • Introduction
  • How to deliver Bad News
  • Tips to deliver the bad news to the employee
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • Examples


Breaking a bad news to the employee is one of the most difficult thing to do.Delivering a bad news is very sensitive situation so it should be deliver in right way.  To deliver the bad news there should be no delay or dishonesty. Delaying and dishonesty in this will make the situation more difficult.

Bad news for an employee can be:(Indeed Editorial Team, February 23,2021)

  • Loss of the job
  • Not getting promoted
  • Increased work timing
  • no increment in salary
  • Change in the employment benefits
  • Closing of an organization
  • Change in job location

How to deliver the bad news to the employee

  • Prepare – First prepare yourself for delivering the bad news because it is a difficult thing to do. Do research on that. Like –
  1. What is the reason behind that news
  2. What will be the impact of this on the company and the employee
  3. Why this decision was made
  4. Who made this decision

Doing Research will help you to prepare for the conversation. By knowing the facts about the news will make a lot easier for you to make that employee understand and will the make the situation better.

  • Rehearse what you are going to speak

Do Rehearsal of your conversation with someone or record what your conversation and then listen to it. B rehearsing you will get to know what is missing in your conversation or is it direct and honest . You will get know how it sounds. For example- Does it sound positive or negative . Then you can make changes according to that.

  • Deliver the bad news in- person

Delivering the bad new in-person will make the other person more comfortable. If it is for all the group then make an announcement . For example- if the company is closing then it is the bad news for all the employees for that make an announcement. As it shows the respect towards the employee.

  • Be direct

Have a direct communication. As it will make the other person clear about the situation.Tell the reason behind that news. Telling the reason will make them understand. Be honest with the employee. Help the receiver to understand and accept the news.

  • Wait for the Response

After delivering the bad news, wait for there response. It may take some time for that person to give any response. Ask them if they have any question regarding it. Show empathy to that person.

  • End the conversation

At the end of the conversation show your support. Give your advice if it’s required.

Tips to Deliver the bad news to the employee

  • Use simple Language
  • make direct conversation
  • Be Respectful
  • Follow Your company Policies
  • Listen to the receiver after delivering the bad news
  • Be optimistic while delivering the news

Do’s and Don’ts 

Do’s for delivering the bad news to employee:

  • Prepare yourself
  • Do show your empathy
    (Geoffrey tumlin, April 27,2020 , Business know how )
  • Encourage the receiver
  • Do give the receiver an opportunity to speak
  • Do listen to the receiver

Don’ts for delivering the bad news to employee:

  • Don’t be rude while delivering the bad news
  • Don’t give advice until it asked by the receiver
  • Don’t smile while delivering bad news


Example to tell the employee that he/she is not getting promoted

“We did not select you for the promotion. The hiring team selected a candidate with more leadership experience, and while I think you would perform well in the role, gaining more experience before promoting makes sense. Do you have any questions or anything you’d like to share?” [Allow the employee time to respond.] “Let’s discuss how you can gain more leadership experience in the coming year.” (Indeed Editorial Team, February 23,2021,https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/delivering-bad-news-to-employees  )

Example To tell the employee that he/she is fired

“Today will be your last working day at the office. I have come to the decision to terminate your employment, effective today. You have received several warnings and an official discipline action regarding failure to comply with company policies. Please take some time to read this notification and ask any questions you may have. HR will be working with you today to complete this transition. ”(Ardeley Sihite, June12 ,https://www.viamaven.com/blog/examples-delivering-bad-news-employees )


Indeed Editorial Team, February 23,2021 , Indeed career guide , https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/delivering-bad-news-to-employees .

Amy Gallo , March 30,2015, Harvard Business Review , https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-deliver-bad-news-to-your-employees

Ardeley sihite, June 12, Via Maven, https://www.viamaven.com/blog/examples-delivering-bad-news-employees

Rhett Power, Wed , April 5,2017 , CNBC make it, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/05/the-8-dos-and-donts-of-delivering-bad-news.html














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