Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose – author of the business and time management books TimePeace: Making peace with time – the The Book of Answers:  105 Career Critical Situations – and I am a business and efficiency coach that specializes in time management, project management and work-life balance strategies.


Today’s discussion is regarding how to break bad news to employees.


A busy professional asks:

How do I break bad news to employees?  It might be staffing changes, a lost contract or even the death of someone close to the business.  When should I:

  • Break the news?
  • To whom (or everyone at once)?
  • Appropriate ways to communicate?
  • Tips for doing it right?



Giving bad news is never comfortable, but necessary.  The way you do it can influence the way people accept the news.

Some tips:

  • For those that are directly affected with the news, you talk to them directly (one-on-one).  Those that are not directly affected, it can be a group discussion.
  • Depending upon the type of news, be prepared with answers and follow-up counseling (grief counseling, further training, next steps life coaching, etc.)
  • Focus on them versus yourself.
    1. Avoid the temptation to fill in awkward pauses with “This is the most difficult thing I have had to report.”  or “I’m really broken up about telling you this”.  “This is a shock to me as well.”
    2. You might think you are helping by showing them how badly you feel — but — in actuality – they don’t really care how it’s affecting you (especially if you are not really affected by the layoff, structure change, etc).
    3. Silence is okay.  It gives them the space needed to absorb the information.  Continued talking doesn’t help them.  Wait patiently for them to end the silence, after the initial reveal.
  • Realize that they might want to immediately leave your presence after the news. But don’t assume that your job is done when they leave the room.
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting.  Recognize that people might need time to absorb the information.  Acknowledge that they will have more questions later and need to time to process what has been said.  Actually schedule a follow-up meeting before they leave.  That next meeting will have answers to the questions they asked today, as well as an opportunity for any more questions.
  • Know your audience.  If it’s a particular tough topic and you suspect your employee will be emotional or even volatile – have security (or muscles) ready (but out of sight).  You don’t want to show that you expect trouble (because then you will get it).  But you want to be prepared for it – just in case.

See what you think about those ideas.
I know your situation is different.  If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact LauraRose@RoseCoaching.info

I am a business coach and this is what I do professionally.  It’s easy to sign up for a complementary one-on-one coaching call, just use this link https://www.timetrade.com/book/WFSFQ


With enough notice, it would be my honor to guest-speak at no cost to your group organization.

Q&A Forum
Schedule A Chat