How to Convey Bad News to Your Boss

This is never easy. No one likes to hear bad news. Delivering something unpleasant to your friends or family is tough, but it’s definitely not the same as telling your boss that there’s a problem.

What is it that makes us hesitate? Well, that answer is pretty obvious – it feels like you’re risking your career and your current job position. But, you need to ask yourself this – are you really endangered or are you simply a messenger?

Whether it’s your mistake or someone else’s, there’s a right way to declare a problem. With the following tips, you’ll be able to find clarity in this situation and control your actions.

Step Up and Show Courage

Initiative is always welcome – even in these situations. An employee who can handle pressure and work under it, as opposed to staring into the floor when someone needs to take responsibility, is a valuable team member.

Some employees even get intimidated by their bosses. This leads to lack in communication as they don’t talk to them at all, even if the situation has a positive outcome.

But it’s time you break that barrier. It’ll turn out to be highly beneficial for your career. And there’s no time like the present, so step up.

Don’t Downplay It

Okay, so there’s a problem that needs complete attention of your office, including your boss, so it gets fixed. But what’s that one action that can do to make the situation worst? Make the problem look smaller or make it sound like a slight glitch in a project.

If you do something like this, the problem in question won’t be taken care of the right way. In the end, it’ll turn out to be a complete disaster.

And what do you think, who’ll blamed in this situation? It’s you. If you decided to step up and show initiative, then be honest. Let your team members and other stakeholders understand the level at which the problem has escalated. This will help them find a solution at priority to avoid any major hits to the project. Otherwise, your organization and you could be facing consequences.

Make Sure It’s the Right Moment

A problem like this deserves focus. If you decide to deliver the bad news to your boss while they are walking, talking on the phone, signing a document while they are on their way to the elevator, you won’t accomplish much.

On the other hand, waiting for the right moment is a call for procrastination. You can use it as an excuse for a very long time, and by then, it will be too late to fix anything.

So, your job is to make time for it. Consult your boss’s personal assistant, tell them that you need at least half an hour to discuss a problem that needs their immediate attention.

This way, your boss will know that it’s a serious matter and that they need to concentrate on you so they can contribute to the solution.

Backup Your Story

Showing up to that meeting empty handed will be perceived as a lack of expertise. If you already managed to see the problem, then you also need to know how it originated, and what consequences it had so far.

A problematic matter here is pointing fingers, which isn’t something you should do. The person who should discipline employees and give rewards is your boss. So, stick to your messenger role, and provide all the details.

Some people believe that the means justify the ends. But it’s unlikely for you to find a contemporary company that will award tattletales.

Offer a Solution

Now, you’ve arrived to the most important step – conveying bad news to your boss. You should perceive this whole process as if it were an easy project. Consider that there’s a timeline you should stick to, and there are also tasks you need to complete before it’s finished.

Without offering a suitable way out of a problematic situation, you’ll be just a paperboy or a girl who’s delivering the news. And if you want to take effort of delivering the news to your boss and be acknowledged for it, make sure you come up with a solution.

A mark of a valuable employee is that they are not afraid of changes. So, suggest a resolution – well, a reorganization in this case. Chances are that the mistake in question took place because of a misunderstanding or improper delegation of work. This can be easily solved if you introduce simple project management software to the way you do business.

Not only do overlaps in communication lead to mistakes, but also considered to be the number one cause for conflicts. So, the solution you need here is a change in communication mediums. You, as a team, should also set some ground rules and talk about proper and improper ways to share information with colleagues.

To Sum Up…

Delivering bad news doesn’t come down to just sharing information with your boss. If you want to do it right, you should look at it as if it were an easy project. First, you need to be bold and find the right moment. Make sure to tell it as it is, nothing more and nothing less, and to back your story with evidence.

Last, but not the least, offer a solution to the problem. Considering the fact that you should steer clear from pointing fingers, you should put blame on poor communication channels, and suggest that they are replaced with a contemporary tool such as simple project management software. Your solution is clean, effective, simple to use, and it will be widely appreciated by your boss.


Author Bio: David is a technical writer, his works are regularly published in various papers and top-notch portals. His rich experience in Project management domain helps him offer latest and fresh perspective on improved efficiency in work flows across organizations. His informative works on similar lines can be reached out on ProProfs Project.



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