Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Managers: Ask for Bad News

Don't allow bad news to blindside you. If you do, you'll have to shift priorities ina hurry to handle any promlems that arise unexpectedly.

Here are some tips to ensure you get the bad news in time to do something about it:

  • Develop Independent sources of information. Cultivate informal contacts elsewhere in your organization. Take customer calls at the call center. Talk to your front-line staff.
  • Push for depth. Does one element of a report seem a little off? Search for the reason why. That "off" fact or figure could alert you to a major problem.
  • Create a "truth-telling" culture. Assign a "worse-case scenario" team to every analysis. Get everyone used to "facing the truth." Caution: Truth telling doesn't mean shooting down less than perfect ideas.
  • Take action. If what your staff tell you just languishes, they won't come forward. Mobilize your resources and tackle the problem immediately.
Adapted from "How to Get Bad News to the Top" by Scott Kirsner

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