No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. Accepting responsibility or simply disappointing others makes us uncomfortable and nervous. Yet the longer you wait to deliver bad news, the more difficult the inevitable conversation becomes. To alleviate some of this pain, any time you embark on a new project, create a culture for communicating early, often and honestly. For example:
- Build a communications plan, have the stakeholders approve it and then stick to it.
- Be clear and candid about risks at the beginning of a project. List every possibility, even those with extremely low probabilities.
- Set and agree upon clear expectations at the onset of a project to avoid unnecessary disappointment and delays.
- Avoid emotions when sharing any news—good, bad and status quo.
- Whenever possible, deliver bad news in person or over the phone.
- Seek and encourage feedback from others often.