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So you've read all the business books and articles, and you believe you know the best way to deliver bad news to employees: Be objective and factual, stay positive, and bring solutions to the table. But actually, "this is terrible advice when it comes to trust-building," said Andrea P. Howe, who spoke June 22 during a mega session at the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition in Washington, D.C."Conventional wisdom really sucks," said Howe, who co-wrote The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust (Wiley, 2011). Howe co-presented the session "How to Deliver Bad News and Build Trust at the Same Time" with Gary S. Jones, chief human resources officer for Grizzard Communications Group in Atlanta. Words of WarningTo help people better receive bad news, Howe and Jones suggested beginning the conversation with a "caveat" such as "This is awkward," which serves as a warning that something is up—and it's not good. You might use such a caution before informing an employee that he's not getting a raise, for example, or telling a senior leader she needs to step up and take action. "Even if a caveat is only two words—'heads up'—[it demonstrates that] you care enough to show the person something is coming," Howe said. "Caveats can be your best friend as an HR professional," Jones agreed. Some helpful examples he and Howe shared include:
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