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Deliver Bad News without Looking Bad

It’s easy to deliver good news. A project is under budget, on time, and ready for review. Then there’s the bad news, news like, “Hello. Our company is shutting down due to charges of fraud, or, “How are you today? Our project will be $300k over budget if we continue.” You can put your head down and pray, or listen to the advice of Brad Egeland, who’s had to deliver his share of regretful reports. In an article for ProjectSmart, Egeland offers his take on confronting stakeholders with the frightening facts.

Sizing up the Situation

Egeland recommends stealing 10 minutes to take stock of the situation before assembling the team – to gauge just how bad the situation is. Once the team is in one spot, it’s time to “discuss and assess.” This may not take very much time, but it’s worth the effort, since valuable insight can come from the least anticipated staff. The more people who can offer a diverse set of resolutions, the better off you’ll be on the phone. Next, you can go to senior management. Give them your spiel and see if it measures up to their standards. This may be painful, but in the end you’ll have no better ally and/or official backing for delivering the news.

The Plan

If you’ve been able to put together any options or alternatives from the previous steps, cobble them together now and determine which have the greatest likelihood of working based on your client’s needs. With any luck, you may be given extra time to come up with an extended budget. Or if your company’s failing, you might just get offered a job (well, at least it worked in Egeland’s case). In the end, however, be prepared to let the client walk away. It’s their project, after all.

Read the original article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI’s Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master’s degree in communications at Penn State University.

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