Always maintain respect and privacy. Making a negative statement about an employee in front of a group of coworkers can be considered ridicule or harm, and in the coming cases may be actionable and involve legal ramifications. In addition to the legal responsibility, you have the overall goal of demonstrating professionalism as you represent yourself and your company in maintaining the relationship with the employee, even if the end goal is termination. Employees have retaliated against their organizations in many ways, from discouraging remarks to vandalism and computer viruses. Your goal is to avoid such behavior, not out of fear, but out of professionalism and respect for yourself and your organization. Open lines of communication present in a relationship can help reduce the risk of relational deterioration or animosity. The sidebar below provides a checklist for delivering a negative message. Negative Message Checklist 1. Clear goal in mind 2. Clear instructions from supervisor (legal counsel) 3. Clear understanding of message 4. Clear understanding of audience/reader 5. Clear understanding of procedure and protocol 6. Clear, neutral opening 7. Clear explanation without admission of guilt or culpability 8. Clear statement of impact or negative news 9. Clear redirect with no reminders of negative news 10. Clear results with acceptance or action on negative news Presenting Negative News in Person Most of us dislike conflict. It may be tempting to avoid face-to-face interaction for fear of confrontation, but delivering negative news in person can be quite effective, even necessary, in many business situations. When considering a one-on- one meeting or a large, formal meeting, consider the preparation and implementation of the discussion. 17.1 DELIVERING A NEGATIVE NEWS MESSAGE • 501
The first step involves a clear goal. Stephen Covey (1989) recommends beginning with the end in mind (Covey, S., 1989). Do you want your negative news to inform, or to bring about change, and if so what kind of change and to what degree? A clear conceptualization of the goal allows you to anticipate the possible responses, to plan ahead, and to get your emotional “house” in order. Your emotional response to the news and the audience, whether it is one person or the whole company, will set the tone for the entire interaction. You may feel frustrated, angry, or hurt, but the display of these emotions is often more likely to make the problem worse than to help solve it. Emotions can be contagious, and people will respond to the emotional tone of the speaker. If your response involves only one other person, a private, personal meeting is the best option, but it may not be available. Increasingly people work and contribute to projects from a distance, via the Internet, and may only know each other via e-mail, phone, or videophone/videoconferencing services. A personal meeting may be impractical or impossible. How then does one deliver negative news in person? By the best option available to both parties. Written
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- Fall '16