If you’re an employer delivering difficult news…


Problems always arise in the workplace, and hard decisions have to be made. As a manager or supervisor, it is your responsibility sometimes to deliver difficult news to your employees. Out of instinct, you might default to softening the blow by using small talk or sugarcoating the news. But doing so might lead to false hopes or confusion. Instead, we have listed some steps on how to deliver bad news compassionately.

Research and prepare

Before breaking the news to your team, it’s crucial to gather the facts and context to prepare yourself. Get the basics first. If, for example, the company decides to lay off some employees from your team. As their leader, you’ll want to know the reason for this decision and who made it. Expect your team to ask you a lot of questions about it, so writing down a list of potential questions they might ask can help too. Coming into the conversation prepared shows that you care for them.

Be honest and direct

When delivering the news, it’s about the delivery. Make sure to say it directly and to the point. Try to avoid beating around the bush or using small talk as a buffer. Not only are you wasting time, but it also doesn’t help in making them not feel uneasy. Additionally, when sharing difficult news, use simple language and avoid using business jargon. This is also when you would provide the context or the basis of the decision. You can share your emotions and be sympathetic to your workers during this time, but as the bridge between your workers and the higher powers, you still need to be neutral and still support the decision even if you disagree with it.

Allow them time and space to respond

Delivering bad news can hit hard emotionally, so allow your employees time to process the information. You can ask them if they have any questions or have them ask you later when they’re ready. At this time, you offer empathy to your employees and listen to their concerns and questions or if they want to vent. 

Follow up with the next steps

This is your opportunity to lay out the following steps, and what you and your team can do in light of this news, whether it’s improving what you and your team have already done or motivating them to keep working harder despite the situation. As a leader, it is your job to offer guidance and advice to your workers, especially when they feel lost or miserable.


If you’re an employee delivering difficult news…


It’s only normal to feel scared when you have to break unfavourable news to your boss, whether telling them about a mistake you made or if you’re planning to quit. Here are a few things you can do:

Prepare yourself emotionally

Take the time to calm your nerves so you can think about what you want to say. So when you disclose the news, you’ll be able to do so calmly and clearly and demonstrate your professionalism. 

Tell only your boss

If you want to tell your boss that you want to quit, for example, establish the context for the conversation. Don’t mention it casually or in passing to them and instead talk to them one-on-one. 

Provide all information

If you’re telling your boss you’re quitting, then be honest and share the reasons why. If you’ve made a mistake while doing your job, don’t omit any details. Your superior would need all the information to determine how to handle the situation. Plus, honesty and admitting your mistake will make them appreciate you. Also, be objective and stick to explaining the case and the reasons or causes. 

Offer solutions

If necessary, think of and offer possible solutions to the problem. Discuss with your boss the steps you’ve taken to minimise any damage or any ideas you might have to solve the problem.

Things won’t always work out our way. Still, as long as we continue to be honest and upfront and maintain a degree of professionalism and empathy when dealing with unfavourable situations, you can avoid damaging your work relationships.

Did you have to go through a similar situation? Tell us how you did it by getting in touch with one of the best digital recruitment agencies in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane by emailing office@redwolfrosch.com.au or calling 1300 544 652.