Thursday, November 01, 2012
Sharing Bad News Uncovers Creative Solutions
Several weeks ago, I spoke with a group of senior executives about the importance of cultivating a climate of candor within their senior management team. I argued that leaders need to encourage people to share bad news. Put simply, bad news is not like cream; it often does not rise to the top. Instead it remains quite hidden, often until problems mushroom and grow to a much riskier size and scope. One executive noted that encouraging people to share bad news doesn't simply help the leader understand the key risks for the business. Opening sharing among top team members also helps uncover creative solutions to tough problems. Why? The other top team members may never hear about a key problem in another division or functional area if that bad news is not shared openly. If they do hear about it, they may be able to offer some ideas as to how to fix the problems. Perhaps they have even experienced a similar problem in their own division. In that way, a candid discussion of bad news isn't just about keeping the chief executive aware of key risks; it also provides an opportunity to get these problems fixed more quickly.