Communicating Challenging News by gregvanderlindeslia


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									SLiA Group
             Sales Leadership in Action Group

 Communicating Challenging News

Executive Summary:

Communication is tough at the best of times and even tougher when it is challenging news
on a departmental or company level. Most sales leaders do not communicate challenging
news well. Learning to improve their communication tactics will help them face less
resistance and facilitate a smooth transition when changes are to be made.

                Bottom Line & Business Impact:
                As sales leaders adopt an open communication policy they will be better able to
                communicate challenging news, and dispel any negative murmurings early on
                amongst the sales staff. This will increase employee morale, and lead to a more
                motivated team.

           © 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                            Page 1
                  The Impact of Poor Communication
                  Poor communication creates risk. Even a program or strategy designed to strengthen the
                  company or department can have adverse effects if not communicated well. This impacts
                  the perception of management, and can adversely affect the morale and performance of the
                  sales team. Sales leaders must understand and utilize effective communication when
Lay of the Land

                  presenting challenging news.

                     • The Process of Communication
                     • Methods to Communicate Effectively and Mitigate Risk

                  The Process of Communication
                  Communication is not what is said and how it is said, but what is heard and internalized.
                  Communicating news such as downsizing, outsourcing, and mergers and acquisitions are
                  challenging enough for experienced managers, let alone for new sales leaders. Issues such
                  as potential disruptions, decreased results, and resignation can all result from poor

                  Methods to Communicate Effectively and Mitigate Risk
                  1. Assume that the confidential information will get out.
                     • “Hot” news rarely stays confidential for long. There is a greater negative impact when
                       only part of the news gets out as opposed to when the entire story is shared.
                  2. Inform as soon as possible.
                     • Share information as soon as possible in front of the entire team where the message
                       can be controlled. This prevents rumors and partial stories from being circulated later.
                  3. Clearly explain why the change is happening and why it is necessary.
                     • Provide background information to better explain the thought process which led to
                       the decision, and what management is hoping to accomplish through the change.
                     • Share the plan to move forward and other options that were considered along with the
                       reasons they were rejected.
                     • Sharing as much of the big picture as possible allows the team to learn and
                       understand the reasons for the change and provides some level of credibility to the
                       management team.
                  4. Communicate often.
                     • Focus on key points, especially when discussing subsequent information.
                     • Celebrate milestones.
                     • If there is a big change, distribute an informing email amongst staff.
                  5. Do not communicate big news in small amounts.
                     • Share all news at once. People grow tired of change, which therefore creates a
                       negative perception of management by their staff. “Do they not know what they’re
                     • People need time to work through change. Constant change is very emotionally
                  6. Be as honest as possible.
                     • Acknowledge that the change will have bumps, such as more work or employee
                       evaluation. This will add credibility.
                     • Provide honest answers to questions and concerns. Avoiding the truth only provides
                       short term gains. Lying results in a tremendous amount of negative results.
                  7. Avoid having senior management communicate everything.
                     • People feel more comfortable hearing news from someone they are familiar with.

                     © 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                             Page 2
   • While some news, such as downsizing a department, needs to come from the ‘top’,
     direct changes to the department such as role & responsibility changes should come
     from the sales leader.
8. Create a formal process for addressing employee questions and concerns.
   • Staff want to know that their questions and concerns will be heard and taken into
   • Answering these questions in a timely fashion is a priority.
9. Follow up.
   • The bigger the change, the longer it takes to implement.
   • Report on progress to date, including improvements being realized.
10.The parade effect.
   • Be cognizant that while one department may have already gone through the change,
     others may be just starting or part way through.
   • This creates a mix of emotions at different stages, and communication must be
     different at each level.

  © 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                           Page 3
                Putting into Practice
                Effective One-on-One Coaching
                Coaching on an Individual Basis
                The 10 Steps of Coaching
                How to Give Effective Feedback

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© 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                                                  Page 4

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