5 Power Tips to effectively communicate difficult decisions.

In today’s business and leadership, we all have to take tough decisions. When anxiety is high and it is difficult to keep morale up; we must communicate those decisions clearly and calmly. Here are 5 power tips to help you do just that.  

  1. Fine-tune your timing and mode of delivery.

  •      As the decision is finalized, ask yourself these questions. What might be the best mode of communication for this decision? What could be the best timing? If you are eliminating a position or reducing the size of a department, you might want to be in harmony with HR. You want to communicate as soon as you inform the affected party, not too early but before the rumors get out.
  •      Ask yourself, Is an email is the best route to communicate this decision? Should it be a team meeting? Or a combination of the two? Sometimes, it is best to send an email in advance to give a chance to people to process the news before you open it up on a forum. Weigh in your options carefully as per the team culture and composition.
  •      Contemplate your influencers and complainers. Getting the influencers on your side in advance will help you with the aftermath. Besides, consider

  1. Prepare yourself first.

  •      Make sure you prepare yourself emotionally for the backlash. Rehearse your answer if you need to. Prepare how you will respond to negative feedback.
  •      Avoid the temptation to create an answer on the spot if you don’t know for certain. It’s perfectly okay to say, “I hadn’t anticipated that question so I don’t know the answer. Let me look into that and follow up with you.”

  1. Keep it human to human.

  •      It is ok to share that the decision wasn’t taken lightly. Don’t downplay the damage or dehumanize anyone. Recognize the potential issues and acknowledge the fear. Listen to their feelings with empathy.
  •      Acknowledging the fears, showing them that you have considered them, and made a plan to avoid those scenarios would help you regain their trust.
  •      While you may need to keep some facts private during a transition, consider sharing the “Why” behind your decision, the more informed your people are, the more they’ll be able to deal with the discomfort.

  1.  Be clear that the decision is final.

  •      While it is ok to provide an outlet to listen to the feelings, don’t send mixed messages. Be clear about what is on the table for discussion and what is not.
  •      Allow for venting to some extent but not a debate; consider redirecting the discussion towards their input on the next steps.

  1. Share the next steps.

  •      Make your intention clear. Don’t promise to solve everything. Acknowledge that it going to be messy. Draw boundaries around what you are promising and what are the “worst-case scenarios” that would never happen.
  •      Tell them what to expect next and how you plan to follow up proactively. Moreover, do follow up timely and proactively. 

Finally, remember that you can’t please everyone, the best thing you can do is to believe in yourself and do the next right thing.