Thank You For The Bad News

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What do I do when I get bad news?
  • Why would I say thank you?
  • How do I address the error?

This guidance tells you what to do when directs bring you bad news.

A direct comes to you with bad news. He’s been hiding a significant delay, and he has to finally admit it because he knows you’ll find out tomorrow. She tells you the vendor she thought was great has just sent terribly quality, and late to boot. He has promised something in writing to another department that there’s NO WAY you can deliver.

The right thing to do first is say thanks.


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Great cast!

Thanks for this podcast - and agreed: it's one for your hall-of-fame.

The difference in directs' behavior when they know it's safe to bring bad news is striking.  Not only do real problems not "ferment" as you put it, but you also get wind of issues and challenges which aren't yet a big problem, but may be harbingers of trouble to come.  Double-win goodness!

Used it this week

 The cast said to say if you used it, which I did this week. It was not from a vendor, but another group we work with. They want to do everything cheap and fast, but in the end, they have repeatedly fallen through causing delay after delay after delay. On Friday that person sent an E-mail that the vendor we were working with on this long term project abruptly shut their doors. Oh my. I forwarded to my boss, her boss, and some people on my team, mentioning that we knew there was a risk on the vendor, but they had signed off on it. Looking back, that wasn't the best thing to say, though I'm not sure any of them cared since they were SO MAD this thing fell through.

I listened to the cast over the weekend and realized I needed to say something different. So I replied back to the person who sent it (whom I think is incompetent) and thanked him for the news. I empathized that they had worked hard. Then I said we were ready to support them in whatever next alternative action they wanted to take. Whew, can't believe I wrote that, and I copied my boss and her boss. My boss did say she thought it was amusing since she knew how mad she was and how mad I was about it. But I'm glad I wrote it.