Breaking Bad…News that is! How to Soften the Blow

uh-oh

It’s never good to receive bad news. To actually be the one to deliver the bad news can also bring an unsettling feeling to one’s stomach. No one wants to hear bad news without understanding how or why something happened the way did. Here are critical steps to cushion the impact:

1). Own up to the mistake if one is quickly identified. In the distribution industry, if a carrier missed a delivery appointment, then one would follow up with the carrier to understand what happened.

2). Shoot first, ask questions later. But shoot with precision!! Figuring out what your Plan B will be to finish the task at hand is vital. Being able to come up with a solution can help ease the delivery of bad news. Time may be of the essence in most cases. One example would be having a case of gloves go missing that is also no longer available at the vendor.

3). Research the nitty, gritty facts. Find an alternative approach, then figure out if multiple parties involved will be responsible. A “major key” (DJ Khaled would hopefully approve of the use of this term) would be to understand 5 W’s of the issue: who, what, when, where, why. Please don’t forget the “how.”

4). Summarize the timeline of the task. Summarize the timeline in an email. Doing this task can help clear any lingering confusion for all parties involved.

Being able to solve problems increases more opportunities for your personal brand. It make you a resourceful person and that makes people want to work with you more and more!

What key tips do you find most useful in delivering unsettling news?

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Crisis Management: NFL

The National Football League is clearly in the public eye regarding all of the domestic violence scandals brought on by such players as Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy. It has been harsh criticism towards how NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, handled the Ray Rice’s disciplinary action. There is even more pressure on what the “standard” disciplinary action should be within the NFL for players who are irrefutably responsible domestic violence situations.  Accountability throughout the NFL was dropped over these scandals.

Photo Credit: Fortune.com  http://fortune.com/2014/09/20/ray-rice-adrian-peterson-tiger-woods-athletes-dropped-endorsements/
Photo Credit: Fortune.com http://fortune.com/2014/09/20/ray-rice-adrian-peterson-tiger-woods-athletes-dropped-endorsements/

The NFL has yet to lose any sponsors over this yet however they are requests from media buyers asking to shift their ads during Viking and Ravens games.  Players have personally lost endorsement deals including Rice’s endorsement with Nike.

Here are 6 leadership lessons, originally provided by Clinton Colmenares and paraphrased by me, for any organization to reference when they’re in a sticky situation:

  1. PR is strategic.  It should not be used to “spin” stories, especially in favor of the ones at fault.
  2. Find out ALL the facts.  In the Rice incident, it was the implication that the NFL had no knowledge of the video of Rice in an elevator showing physically attacking his then fiancée although the Associated Press says differently.  Plausible deniability is not an effective tactic in public relations as everything, especially in a huge viral scandal, will come to light.
  3. Be honest with stakeholders.  The initial punishment for Rice was a two-game suspension.  The NFL probably didn’t think the video would go viral months after initial punishment was implemented.  Now Rice is suspended indefinitely, thus showing the NFL was not serious about punishing its’ players.  The league also mentioned that they would conduct an “independent investigation.” Reporters easily noted that the investigator had NFL ties and would answer to NFL owners.
  4. Think long-term.  The Rice incident happened back in February but it went viral in September with the release of the video.  In this case “no news is good news” did not work in the NFL’s favor.
  5. Get ahead of bad news.  The NFL should have used this tip back in February.  If the public knew that action is being taken, people are more forgiving.  If you have to explain, you’re losing wrong and you’ve lost  control over the situation
  6. Rely on values.  Continuing to allow bad decisions based on poor judgement and weak values to be made can be the decline of an organization.  It can become a societal issue.  Controversies, particularly within the NFL (domestic violence, concussions, player violence, substance abuse) can and have created mistrust, inefficiencies, and chaos before the situations became public.

When the NFL still had control over the situation, they should have:

  • Found out the facts
  • Got everyone to sign non-disclosure agreements that had access to the video
  • Held a press conference about Rice’s suspension only disclosing what’s necessary, noting that he will be receiving the help that he needs.

What else can you think of that an organization can keep in mind for a crisis?