How to break bad news to your IT team without killing morale

Every team faces wins and losses. Keeping your team motivated during the lows is a tricky terrain to navigate but if you do it skillfully not only does it bring the team together but also helps make them more resilient. 

According to Stavros Zavrakas, the founder of Orthogonality “In my 10+ years of leading a team I have learnt that the first step is to make sure that your team trusts you. In the face of bad news it’s easy to lose your sense of direction, however, as a leader it is your responsibility to be their support system.”

“Creating a positive work atmosphere for your colleagues is one of the first things to do, even before you have unpleasant news to share”, recommends Eyal Pasternak (CEO of Liberty House Buying Group).

You must have an effective support structure in place that motivates them to return to work each day. They ought to be able to handle receiving terrible news just fine as long as they have that support. They will still have that wonderful setting to return to, which can provide an incentive even if the bad news comes as a severe blow. Make your staff members love their work, and they’ll want to do it as well as they can.

Sometimes unfavorable news arrives for no apparent reason on the part of the employees. It’s possible that decisions made at a higher level have nothing to do with how well they actually function or what their capabilities are. When you convey the news, be sure to emphasize this. Do not sweep it under the rug. Within the first three sentences of a conversation, deliver the bad news.

You must assume accountability in your role as a leader. This is a fantastic technique to increase employee trust in you and to demonstrate to them the value of their labour. If they believe in you, they might even decide to follow your example, which should be to remain motivated no matter what.

The worst possible action would be to break the unpleasant news and then leave. Instead, make an effort to keep a good outlook by concluding strongly. Discuss how you will handle the circumstance and how you will work as a team to get through it. Put your attention on doing something constructive and on the idea that things will improve. There is no longer a need to focus on the terrible once the bad news has been announced. This will assist your team in moving past what they have heard and regaining motivation.

Allow the worker to respond. The staff member is likely to feel a range of emotions, including surprise, wrath, and consternation. And as the boss, it’s your responsibility to acknowledge this emotional response without responding. It’s crucial to allow the employees to vent their frustrations, even if they become illogical.

But resist the urge to engage in a discussion or to cover the same ground. It’s best to just listen because it may easily turn counterproductive and because there isn’t any room for debate on the matter. It’s crucial that staff members are aware of their ability to lean on you through trying circumstances. Help them out. Inform them that your door is always open if anyone wants to discuss the most recent news. They can also come to you if they need assistance in figuring out where to go from here. You can literally help by assisting where you can in their daily duties when hard work will be required to get through difficult periods. This will make it simpler for everyone to stick together, remember their roles on the team, and stay motivated.

If at all possible, try to end on a happy note. So take a moment to consider what lies ahead. Give the employee some options or directions they can go. Be as helpful as you can; the employee is still a member of the team and will need your help. Offer to give testimonials. And if appropriate, advise contacting your network to check if there are any other job openings.

Importantly, urge the individual to protect their mental and emotional health during this trying period.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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