Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can You Deliver the Bad News?

Seems like a simple enough question, doesn’t it?

But you’d be surprised how many people simply cannot deliver the “bad” news when asked.

I’m actually writing this post as a result of an exchange that I had with someone, just today, and their suggestion that it might make for an interesting Blog post.

The head of a local Hospitality Program asked me, after having participated in a program of theirs just the other night, what feedback I had from the evening, and what, if any, comments I had heard from other participants from the evening.

I thought carefully about how to respond, and then I sat down at my keyboard and I wrote out and subsequently forwarded my comments and observations from the evening as requested.

The evening was not perceived to have been as beneficial to some of the participants as I know was hoped and intended, and as a result, I needed to share that sentiment, along with some other constructive criticisms relating to the evenings’ events.

I mentioned earlier that I thought about how to respond, which is true, as I wanted to be respectful of the person I was dealing with, and, I respect the intentions of this person and the program that she has specifically constructed for senior Hotel professionals, like me.

However, what never occurred to me, was to be anything less than 100% honest in answering a question that had been specifically asked of me.

Perhaps that’s why I was so pleased to receive the initial response that I did, and, in particular, the response that followed, as it reinforced my belief that no one benefits when there is less than 100% honesty in any of our relationships, it’s just a matter of applying some tact and diplomacy.

The initial response that I received thanked me for my response and specifically my candidness, enough said.

I replied and reiterated that it gave me no pleasure to provide what could be perceived as negative feedback, but felt that it was important to be completely forthcoming, given that I had been asked to provide my insight into the evenings’ events, and, my belief that no one benefits when you operate in an environment of half-truths.

Leaders need to have the courage, the confidence and the tact required to be the messengers of varying pieces of important information throughout their time as the leaders of people, and more often than not, the news will not be pleasant.

The response that I received was as follows; “I only ask those who I know will give me the honest response I’m looking for … you’re on the list of those whom I can trust to deliver the difficult messages.  I am truly thankful … how else does one improve programs and products.”

It may seem a simple thing, but having this respected professional in the academic field tell me that she knew she could count on me to “deliver the difficult messages” when necessary meant a great deal to me.

Effective communications is an art form.  

The foundation of integrity, as I have written about previously, is a foundation from which you can build anything successfully, but conversely, without that strong foundation, anything that you attempt to build is likely to be flawed.

Under these circumstances, it’s only a matter of time until the weaker foundation gives way under the pressure and that which we have sought to build atop this shaky foundation comes crashing down around us.

There is no substitute for a strong foundation. 

Need an experienced hospitality professional to help your property reach its full potential?  Contact me.

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  1. Hi Dale

    I agree; giving feedback which you know is going to hurt can take a lot of courage, and it is frightening to hear how many people shy away from giving totally honest feedback in a constructive way. Only last week I was running a workshop with some relatively senior managers and some of their responses to this issue alarmed me!

  2. Great post I totally agree. Authenticity is the best policy. I would much rather know where I stand with anyone at any time than wonder.