Delivering unpleasant news to employees can be the worst part about holding a management position. News like this jeopardizes your current relationship and impacts people’s lives negatively.

Common examples include, employee termination, not receiving promotions and commenting on their bad job performance.

Here are five tips to follow when communicating bad news:

1. Prepare

Organize all your talking points in advance to help with the flow of conversation. It can also be used as reference to answer any possible questions.

This is especially important if the news was not a decision made on your behalf, but your supervisors. Make sure to ask why, how and any rational for the current outcome, so it can be truthfully relayed.

2. Get to the point

Be cautious in how you word the bad news, by avoiding being too indirect. If you are clear in your message it reduces any potential confusion.

If they are uncertain, they may ask many follow up questions. This drags out the process, making both parties feel worse.

It is wrong to try and sugar coat news, but better to be direct to allow the employee to start analyzing their plan of action.

3. Offer support

Put yourself in their shoes and if possible, be sympathetic. You don’t have to be calling them every evening to act as their therapist but try to give as much references and resources.

Offering support can lower the negative feelings the employee may have towards you and the company.

4. Provide reasoning

Be transparent and open to answering questions to the best of your ability. They may think it is unfair and want some evidence, or specific examples.

Reasoning helps the employee process the information and cope with the news.

5. Remain professional

With high levels of emotion, your staff may be sad or angry and start venting. Remain professional in what you say, but don’t turn back on the bad news you shared. It’s worse to state bad news, revoke it and then regret not going through with it later.

Avoid saying any negative information about the company that you represent, as this can end up impacting you in the future.

With being professional comes being respectful, don’t make any jokes to lighten the situation - this is extremely hurtful to their feelings and emotions.


Bad news is never fun to deliver, but being prepared and direct, while being sympathetic and respectful are keys to success with this type of task.