Bad news before good news!
Have you ever had someone you are working with on an important project call you and say, “I have good news and bad news?” Or sometimes this is shortened to, “I have good news.” Typically this clever phrasing precedes some important bad news that you as a manager must deal with immediately. But the way it is presented masks it’s importance to soften the blow so you will not be upset with the person reporting the bad news. That is why rule #1 is bad news first. I have endeavored to have everyone I work with use this so that we all know we have a problem that we must address to move forward. Now this does not mean that you can’t enjoy good news! To the contrary you must celebrate wins and make sure your team knows you have been victorious. Just don’t let people tell you something great and then drop bad news while you are enjoying the good news.
Does the customer/project team know this?
I worked for a great sales VP at one of my former companies and he had an expression when sales managers were forecasting big wins. He would always ask, “Does the customer know about this?” This always referred to a large transaction that had some favorable terms for the customer provided that they completed the transaction in time. This also applies to a fast track project where the manager predicts everything will be done on time. Then the question is, “Does your team know about this?” If you think about this question it was really forcing the person reporting the situation to review exactly the state of the discussion or project between the relevant parties which inevitably led to more disclosure of the exact situation.
Let people know what you are doing, especially in today’s fast paced world. Maybe you told your boss that you would be at the dentist in the morning but do others who are looking for you know that you will be off the grid for a few hours? If you go out of town or out of the country to visit customers, vendors, or partners keep good notes and write a trip report on the way home. Let the others on your team benefit by knowing what you learned and what you are doing outside the office. If you manage a team hold a weekly call where everyone has a chance to share their successes, their challenges, and their plans for the next week. The purpose of the call is not to prove you are busy but to inform other team members of important initiatives, visits or activities that are important to your firm. Keep each person’s part to a few brief minutes and if any topic begins to dominate the call jump in take that topic offline with the proper group of people.
Don Henrich is an accomplished technology veteran in both the MCAD and the AEC industries. As Chief Operating Officer of Assemble he is responsible for strategic vision, sales, marketing, customer support, partners, and field operations. Don and his wife Noel have three children, reside in Marblehead, MA and spend as much time as possible sailing on Massachusetts Bay.