12 Helpful Tips for Communicating Bad News to Staff and Stakeholders


Sharing bad news with your company’s employees or stakeholders is never easy, especially when the bad news may directly affect them. Because of this, it’s important to strike the right balance between remaining calm and professional while delivering the news in an empathetic manner.

To further help you through this situation, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answered the following question:

“When bad news strikes for the company, what’s one tip you have for how to approach communicating that news to your staff and other key stakeholders? Why?”

Here are their best tips.



1. Be Honest and Emphasize the Positive

“Be open and honest as quickly as possible to show your trust. Emphasize the positive and speak in terms of how the organization will evolve as a result of the team’s response to the event. Eventually, we all get punched in the gut on our journey to success. Success occurs in our response to trials, not when we’re on the mountaintop. Find your next move, then give your people hope.” ~ Shane Levinson, Carpets of Arizona

2. Allow Employees to Form Their Own Opinions

“When delivering bad news, don’t assume that others see the news the same as you do — they might be happy about it! Take time to listen to their response and gauge your reaction to their tone. You may worry that they’ll freak out, but you may be surprised when they see the opportunity in it. Give them the chance to see the silver lining.” ~ Jonathan Sparks, Sparks Law

3. Over-Communicate the Situation

“It is important to over-communicate during times of crisis or while delivering bad news to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Keep it simple and concise, but reinforce the important messages. Additionally, allow for questions and provide straight answers. Over-communication only works as a two-way street. This will also help in avoiding rumors and misunderstandings.” ~ Vinay Indresh, Spacejoy

4. Communicate Bad News Face-to-Face

“Communicate the facts in person or face-to-face. Where that is not possible, do video conferencing, but make it visual. Bad news is always hard to hear and hard to share. Keep the communication flowing. Involving yourself and allowing others to share their feelings or thoughts makes it more manageable and helps to ease fear and confusion.” ~ Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas

5. Be Completely Transparent

“I would suggest sharing the news immediately and with absolute transparency. In this dynamic business era, anything can go wrong with any business. As a leader or founder, one cannot always control all the factors that govern businesses, like the global pandemic. Transparency will help the staff and stakeholders prepare their minds and look for solutions.” ~ Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

6. Deal With the Situation Urgently

“When bad news strikes, it’s important to have a sense of urgency in dealing with the situation. Don’t put it off; deal with it head-on. This will show your staff and other key stakeholders that you’re taking the situation seriously and that you’re committed to finding a resolution. It will also help to prevent further damage from being done and will build trust between you and your employees.” ~ Adam Preiser, WPCrafter

7. Share Your Plan of Action

“Sharing bad news isn’t easy, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it. So be honest and direct with your team and stakeholders. At the same time, you should also let them know what you’re doing to improve the situation and what your plan of action is in case it doesn’t work. That way, people know what to expect from you and can create a backup plan for themselves.” ~ Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

8. Establish Next Steps

“Communicating bad news to your staff can be a difficult task, but when you’re the owner of the business, you have to do it. One way of doing it is to establish next steps. After sharing the bad news, discuss how to move on from it. Guide your employees on what to do next and how to make a positive career step with the company. This will reassure them that you have their back and make them feel at ease.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

9. Find the Silver Lining

“Sharing bad news is never easy, but it is essential, regardless of your industry. When you get bad news you need to share, take a few minutes to look for silver linings. When you’re explaining the situation to employees or stakeholders, sprinkle in the bits of good news so the people you’re talking to get the complete picture instead of nothing but negative news.” ~ John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

10. Take an Empathetic Approach

“When bad news strikes the company, it’s important to be empathetic in your approach to communicating that news to your staff and other key stakeholders. This will help show that you understand how they’re feeling and that you’re there to support them. Try to be as open and honest as possible, and provide as much information as you can about what’s happening.” ~ Sujay Pawar, CartFlows

11. Offer as Much Closure as Possible

“It can be challenging to share bad news about the company. But, hiding it won’t do you any good. You have to share it the way it is. Don’t keep any secrets from your team, and offer as much closure as you can. Transparency helps you keep your relationships with the staff and other key stakeholders intact. Hopefully, with their support, you will rise from the ashes once more.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

12. Be at Peace With the News Before Sharing It

“Take a moment to absorb the news. Think about it from all angles and become at peace with it. When you have made your peace with that news, you will be in a better position to think of a solution. When you have a solution, you can then tell the necessary parties about the news and the solution ahead. How you deliver the news will determine how well it is received, so deliver it in a positive tone.” ~ Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo

Image: Envato Elements






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