Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents column, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
There is always good and bad news at work. Which one should be announced first?
LA: Philosophers throughout time debated and challenged principles, ethics and beliefs. I can almost imagine a discussion between Plato and Socrates about the topic of good and bad news. They’d think of many variables that control each situation. For example, who’s the news giver to the recipient? How severe is the bad news and how big is the good news in comparison? Is the bad news affecting the audience directly or is it bad news about someone else that they’ll feel sorry for but won’t threaten their wellbeing? How is the news communicated and when? It goes on and on and on. However, it’s essential that all these considerations and more be thought of to achieve maximum positive results or to minimize the negative impact.
To start, break it into two categories: Giving vs. Receiving. If you are giving the news, you can do two things: First, don’t give the recipient an option of choosing which type of news to announce first because you won’t be in control of your own communication anymore. Second, start with the good updates so you can put the audience in a positive state of mind. The bad news – assuming it’s at a tolerable level – will be better-received thanks to the mood-boosting upbeat updates. When you are on the receiving end it’s a different story. Let’s say you’ve been waiting for one of your executives to update you about a specific project where you know that at this stage things can go wrong. Since you need to take an action related to customers or investors, for example, ask for the bad news first so you can react in the most efficient and effective way.
Having said that, if the person who’s about to give some news has read this answer too then s/he won’t give you a choice…and that’s just my two cents.
When you fire someone, in most cases there’s a notice period. For the sake of workflow it becomes important to keep the employee during the notice period, but then you risk the drama and bad vibe. Are you with or against notice periods?
LA: If you’re firing, make the cut fast and clean. Don’t keep the fired employee hanging around. It’s bad for the team’s morale, company’s security, and productivity of the unit. However, protect your image and the company’s by making an official verbal statement to the immediate colleagues. Be diplomatic and respectful when you talk of the fired employee. Unless s/he stole money or caused a devastating disaster, don’t mention the reason for firing in depth; a short objective hint will do. Otherwise, current employees might see the reason as personal or judge you, which can be a negative vibe for everyone.
If an employee resigns, it’s up to you to assess the situation. Does the employee have what it takes to behave professionally? Is his/her stay during the notice period crucial to the business or can you do without? If in doubt, pay for the notice period and ask the employee to stop. Remember, one answer does not fit all. Each case is different; so remember to discuss the firing decision with your legal department or your legal advisor before you fire the employee…and that’s just my two cents.
We all have experienced it, seen it in the movies, or read about it in some books. In order to bond with your team, you need to take them out to dinners, group sports, and social activities. I find this time consuming as far as my personal life is concerned. Is there a better way as the boss to build a team without the after-work obligations?
LA: When you were at school, could you have forced the kid next to you in class to be your friend? Sure, you can give them your lunch and help them with their homework, but that’s bribery and denial, not friendship. By being nice, friendly, respectful and supportive you become friends over time. Sometimes, you just click and you don’t have to do anything other than being yourselves. Building a team is not much different than acquiring a new friend at school. Focus on what matters to make the team function. Provide resources for them to get their tasks done. Communicate openly. Celebrate achievements. Share knowledge. Take responsibility for their wrong actions because you’re the boss after all; therefore, remember, it’s always your fault. Such actions will organically form a bond that gels everyone together at times that matter.
When you reach that level of team spirit and positive work environment, you’ll also know more about their personal interests by default. You’ll know who’s into playing sports and who’s into just watching them. Only then, can you organize a “few” different experiences that are relevant to the attendees and no one will feel obliged. To make it a homerun, take a couple of hours from work for such outings. Giving your staff a free lunch all the time will feed them, but won’t satisfy their professional needs. Do what matters the most, otherwise, they will resign regardless…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit knightscapital.com.