Delivering bad news is never easy, especially when it has to be done face to face. What makes it difficult is the people’s reactions and knowing that you have caused the reaction. Although, nine times out of ten one shouldn’t take bad news personally one usually does. Bad news is very tricky to deliver because of its usually sensitive nature; one must be empathetic however must remain professional as well. Deborah Britt Roebuck’s text “Improving Business Communication Skills” provides an entire very helpful chapter on delivering bad news.
Although, Roebuck’s text discusses delivering bad news in writing some of these guidelines can be utilized when dealing with situations in person. However, before going into the guidelines that I find most useful from Roebuck’s text I must state what I would do in addition. As a manager I would ensure that there is a witness to the conversation being held.
I would also make sure that there is some form of documentation that all parties present will provide a signature for enabling proof of the event that occurred and the conversation that took place. It would not be a sort of disciplinary action or counseling, considering that this is the first time the employee is being spoken to about his/her performance and behavior; it would be a simple note to his/her file. Something that may simply state:
“ On this day, a conversation took place in Micaella’s office with John Smith, with Micaella Acevedo, and Jodi Lee present. The conversations was regarding Jodi Lee’s recent performance issues in addition to creating a possible hostile work environment. Jodi has been informed that improvement must become apparent immediately or further infractions may lead up to further disciplinary action possibly leading to further disciplinary action including but not limited to Termination.”
Once the conversation is over and all parties have come to a conclusion all must provide a signatures for the document that will be going into the records for future reference. In addition, to this if the teammate would like to submit their own statements then they are more than welcome to do so. Because the employee has become irate and confrontational I would approach the conversation with great caution and being as neutral, yet understanding as possible. Also, I would use some of Robuck’s guidelines provided such as starting the neutral statement. Another tip is ending on a positive note, because no matter how big the event, or how negative, or how upset the receiver may be at the end of the conversation a positive note always softens ones response and provides reinforcement, motivation and a "On a positive note".
(Robuck,Ch.4, p. 85-90).