How to Give Bad News to Your Boss

It’s tough to be the bearer of bad news, especially when the person you have to deliver the message to is your boss. If you have to share negative information with your supervisor such as problems with a project, mistakes on an important task or that you’re leaving the company, don’t freak out. Instead, prepare yourself by calmly going over the facts in your mind. If necessary, rehearse what you plan to say in advance. You can even write out your main points and bring the notes with you into the meeting, that way you’ll be sure to get it all out in a clear and concise manner.

The following tips can help you deliver sour news to your supervisor in a way that demonstrates your thoughtfulness and professionalism.

Don’t Expect the Worst. You might be tempted to blow a situation way out of proportion in your mind and imagine a terrible reaction from your boss. But, try to avoid getting too worked up. Worrying about how your boss will take the news won’t help the situation and will only rattle your nerves. Instead, stay calm and focus on communicating the facts effectively with your supervisor.

Don’t Beat Around the Bush. Waiting to give bad news won’t make it easier. In fact, this usually only exaggerates a problem. For one, waiting may result in your boss hearing the information through the rumor mill first. Additionally, putting off delivering bad news causes more stress for you. Take a day or two to prepare yourself, and then set up a time for a private meeting with your supervisor at their earliest convenience.

Offer Solutions. When it’s time to give your boss the bad news, make sure you are prepared to offer some solutions. Thinking ahead about ways to resolve the issue demonstrates to your supervisor that you’re a proactive thinker. When you concentrate on trying to resolve the issue instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, you’re making progress toward a positive solution.

When have you had to share bad news with your boss? What did you say, and what response did you receive?

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