Act Quickly When Sharing Bad News

If you ever watched the classic movie The Godfather, you might remember this quote:

“If you would be so kind as to have your driver take me to the airport. The Godfather is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately.”

The speaker was The Godfather’s lawyer and confidant. In the movie, it was spoken in a fashion of one who had held back rough information before and had learned that wasn’t the best idea.

“Bad news” is bad news. While we could wish that “bad news” would never come up, the best way to handle bad news is to confront it head on. Regrettably, we encounter “bad news” situations where the news was slow to surface. Why is that so?

Embarrassment? Sometimes the “bad news” is a result of an error or an omission that embarrasses the one who did it. Their preference is that it will go undetected. Occasionally it escapes notice, but most often it doesn’t . The bad news unreported will cause the situation to worsen over time.

Fear? Sometimes the “bad news” creates a fear in the person or team that is aware of it. They withhold, because they fear the outcomes. Will someone get in trouble? Lose their job? Get demoted? Will sharing the news be painful?

Here’s why we want “bad news” out in a hurry:
1. The truth sets us free. When we delay “bad news”, communication gets strained. Pressure is created. The weight of the “bad news” not shared weighs heavily on those who harbor it. It creates an environment for more “bad” things to occur.
2. We can get our full team working on getting us the best results. One of our advantages is that we have a great, talented team. When a bad situation arises, we want to have as many people thinking and acting to change the direction of the news as we can deploy. When the news is resting with a few, we aren’t using all of our strength.
3. It causes courageous communication, which is necessary for a company to succeed. Once you have had the experience of sharing bad news and seeing how we, a team, can respond to mitigate it’s impact, you learn there is no better way to go.

On our team, there is not one person who hasn’t made a mistake or fallen short of the mark. There is not one person who hasn’t experienced the benefit of having someone come along side in the midst of a bad situation and help it to improve.

We want to create a team spirit here that is based on confidence and courage. We want an atmosphere where you know:
It’s OK to ask for help.
It’s Ok to say you don’t know.
It’s Ok to say “I’m over my head.”
It’s OK to say “I’m scared of what I see.”

When you begin to feel those thoughts, it’s time to muster your courage and step up. In fact, I insist on it.



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Posted in: Communication, Improvement

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