Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Delivering Bad News Tactfully and Effectively

Case Study:
Delivering Bad News Tactfully and Effectively

“You are a department manager in a mid-sized company that provides technology support services. You have ten employees who are required to maintain a high level of technical expertise and deliver excellent customer service. One of your employees, who has been with the company for two years, is performing at a substandard level and you have received numerous complaints from customers and coworkers. In addition, this employee has displayed confrontational behavior which has created a hostile environment. You must now meet with this employee and deliver an ultimatum regarding the need for immediate improvement or dismissal.”


When delivering the bad news to this employee I would approach them directly by scheduling a meeting for us to communicate about their performance and their behavior at work. In this situation it may be best to be direct and upfront with the employee. In the meeting I will go over his performance metrics and the customer complaints he received from customers and coworkers. I will remind him that when hired, the expectations of his role were clearly defined and it was agreed that he would provide excellent customer service as well as to maintain a high level of technical expertise. I would also explain that we work as a team and everyone is expected to perform well.

Anticipate the response

Due to the employee already demonstrating confrontational behavior I would anticipate that the employee will probably become defensive or upset. Therefore I would have their performance documents as well as the customer complaints printed out so the employee can see why I am giving them an ultimatum to improve or to be dismissed from the job. Its important to “gather as many facts about the news that you are delivering before you tell anyone about it” (eHow, 1999-2011). A good manager knows that employees have lives outside of work and sometimes their personal issues could cross over into their professional performance. With that said, I would allow the employee to express themselves and give their explanation on why their performance and behavior has changed. I would use active listening skills to fully understand what the employee is expressing. At that point I would recommend that we come up with a plan together that will ensure the employees performance and behavior will improve and stay on track.

Conflict Resolution Techniques

I would use some conflict resolution techniques when meeting with the employee. For one I would be open and direct. “Telling someone directly and honestly how you feel can be a very powerful form of communication” (Conflict Resolution Guidelines and Tips, 2010). I would be open and direct to ensure that the employee understands the seriousness of this matter. He needs to understand that there is an ultimatum involved. Which is to either improve his performance and behavior or to be dismissed. However, I would advise the employee that I will do whatever I can to work with them to get back on track. Its never easy providing bad news to individuals especially when it comes to business. Unfortunately, it has to be done to ensure the business runs smoothly and to promote fairness.

How to Deliver Bad News in a Business Setting . eHow.com. Retrieved from

Vindicate. (June 23, 2010). Conflict resolution guidelines & tips. Retrieved from:

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