How do you deliver bad news to stakeholders?

This forum is for members to share and gain knowledge of Project Management. Got a question about project management? Need help with a problem? Wish to offer tips and advice? Post here.
Post Reply
User avatar
kwalford
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 301
Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2011 1:34 pm

I am looking for a simple, general and effective technique of delivering bad news to stakeholders on projects (i.e. explaining that you have gone over budget, over schedule etc).

Whether this is correct or not, I follow the below steps when delivering bad news. In my explanation I address the below questions, in the order shown:
  1. What is the nature of the problem?
  2. Why did the problem occur?
  3. What is the solution to the problem?
When delivering bad news, I feel it is appropriate to always give a solution to the problem, where possible of course.

What do others think?

Thanks,
Kit.
User avatar
begeland
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 173
Joined: Sat 09 Mar 2013 11:46 pm
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Contact:

I agree Kit. Considering the saying, "If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem", I always feel that it's best for your project, your customer and stakeholders, and quite possibly your PM career to come with a potential solution - or possibly several well-thought out solution options - when delivering bad news.

Granted, there are those instances when bad news must be delivered immediately and you won't have time to develop possible workarounds or solutions to present to the stakeholders. But when there is time to consider and work with the team to develop possible responses or solutions to the issue at hand then you can be sitting down with the client/stakeholders in a much more proactive and positive light when presenting the bad news. It's much better for customer confidence and satisfaction and will be much easier to have that customer working side by side with you to respond to the issue than if all you're doing is dumping bad news off to the client.
User avatar
kwalford
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 301
Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2011 1:34 pm

begeland wrote:I agree Kit. Considering the saying, "If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem", I always feel that it's best for your project, your customer and stakeholders, and quite possibly your PM career to come with a potential solution - or possibly several well-thought out solution options - when delivering bad news.

Granted, there are those instances when bad news must be delivered immediately and you won't have time to develop possible workarounds or solutions to present to the stakeholders. But when there is time to consider and work with the team to develop possible responses or solutions to the issue at hand then you can be sitting down with the client/stakeholders in a much more proactive and positive light when presenting the bad news. It's much better for customer confidence and satisfaction and will be much easier to have that customer working side by side with you to respond to the issue than if all you're doing is dumping bad news off to the client.

Thanks for the feedback Brad. I am sometimes concerned that my method of delivering bad news is not effective enough. But like you mention, presenting solutions to the problem, as well as the problem, is a good technique.
cvb
New Member
New Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri 18 Jun 2010 10:49 am

I think you need to think what the "call to action" is, and that may vary depending on who you are talking to.

It may be the case that you are communicating purely "for information". But in most cases you are going to be asking for something - a change in milestones, an increase in budget. That may follow a formal change management process, but you are normally going to have some form of informal process first.

So think about what your call to action is... ;)
User avatar
kwalford
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 301
Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2011 1:34 pm

cvb wrote:I think you need to think what the "call to action" is, and that may vary depending on who you are talking to.

It may be the case that you are communicating purely "for information". But in most cases you are going to be asking for something - a change in milestones, an increase in budget. That may follow a formal change management process, but you are normally going to have some form of informal process first.

So think about what your call to action is... ;)
Valid point, thanks for the input
Post Reply