Inspire Sharing of Bad News

We've discussed how a dysfunctional culture erodes productivity earlier. If employees are busy keeping themselves safe, they won't be focusing that energy on getting work done.

Another aspect of this is fear of sharing bad news.

I just watched a video where a CEO explained how important it is to get bad news quickly so that you can react. He is trying to inspire a culture where there are no negative repercussions for sharing bad news, nor is it followed by examining the mistake to death. Instead everyone deals with how to fix it and moves on.

I unfortunately remember too many times where instead of just sharing something, I had to first figure out how to frame and time it so that the response would be a productive one. 

In hindsight I consider that a failure in leadership and culture. 

It is an employee's job to do their work well and to communicate with you, their leader, both the good news and bad. If they have to fear repercussions, or even think twice about telling you something, you've failed to instill a culture of trust and communication. 

If you as their leader are candid and transparent, and if you have reacted appropriately to bad news in the past, they will trust you not to punish the messenger in the future. But all it takes is one wrong word or move to break that trust.

So next time someone shares something unfavorable with you, be very careful of what you say and what your expression and body language say. Part of being a leader is understanding that everyone looks to you for guidance. They watch your every move and reaction, so be sure you are relaying the message you want and that is aligned with the culture you want. 

Have you had to worry about sharing bad news? If not, how was your trust earned?

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