‘We Need to Talk’

How to Break Bad News to Your Boss                                                                               By Megan Alexander, general manager Robert Half New Zealand

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. Even if you have a positive relationship with your boss, there are conversations you probably dread, such as explaining that you made a mistake on an important report.
As tempting as it may be to bury your head in the sand, it’s best to confront a difficult situation head-on. Here are five tips for approaching your manager with bad news:

Share it in person. When possible, meet with your supervisor face to face to explain what has happened. This will allow for an easier exchange of information and shows that you take the situation seriously.

Don’t delay. As disappointing or problematic as the news may be, it is better to tell your manager straight away than for him or her to hear it through the office grapevine. Supervisors want to be aware of important situations affecting their employees, department and company so they can take immediate action.

Offer solutions. Before you present bad news to your boss, think about potential ways to correct the problem. Discuss with him or her specific steps you have already taken and share your ideas for reaching a successful resolution.

Avoid the blame game. Take the high road and focus on the issue at hand, not the people who may be at fault. However, if you are the one responsible for the situation, admit your role as soon as possible.

Anticipate the reaction. Every supervisor is different, so tailor your approach accordingly. If your manager likes to have information in writing, for example, bring a memo to the meeting that you can leave behind detailing the situation and strategies for a positive outcome. If there is a financial impact, have numbers ready to share.
Keep in mind that, in the long run, your boss may place greater weight on the way you handled a difficult situation than the issue itself when assessing your performance. Demonstrate your professionalism by keeping your supervisor informed of challenges and by developing a game plan for minimising them.

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