The Right Way to Give Your Boss Bad News

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No one likes a difficult conversation with the boss, but it can be a valuable tool for building a trusting relationship. Try these four steps the next time you need to share upsetting news:

  • Describe the problem. Provide a general overview and show the specific impact it has on your work and the company’s goals.
  • Identify your solution. Explain how you’ve already tried to solve the problem and what you’ve learned from those attempts. Recommend a specific approach, along with alternatives to give your manager options.
  • Discuss the benefits. Focus on concrete examples of how your idea will succeed. If you have tested your approach on a small scale with good results, share that information.
  • Accept responsibility. Demonstrate your commitment to ensuring success. Work with your manager to develop a final action plan.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across.

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