The boss and the bad news

This blog tells a tale of a boss and his employee. You may ask if the story has a moral and my answer would be simple. It is you who has to find the moral in a story. If you are willing to sidestep the matter of morals and lessons, let me assure you might smile. You might even relate to the persons and the events. For the sake of simplicity and anonymity, I will use fictitious names. But all the events that you are about to read happened in real life.

The employee was facing a commonly seen problem at work. He had to deliver bad news to his boss. As a result, he was tense. After giving it a lot of thought, he decided to adopt the best method for delivering bad news. He will package the bad news with good news. This approach presented another roadblock. What good news will he offer when he had none? After wracking his brain for a few minutes, he was able to dress up some insignificant news as good news.

If you thought he was ready for his boss, then you are wrong. What did the great bard say? When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions. How will he present the news? Bad news first and then good news or vice versa. According to Daniel Pink, the author of many books related to behavioral economics, one should deliver the good news first. This approach breaks the disappointment associated with the bad news. Finally, the employee was ready for the boss.

The employee called up his boss. Then he presented the good news to the boss. While the boss was absorbing the good news, the employee cleverly navigated to the bad news. After the delivery of bad news, the boss became silent. The employee equated the silence to the one before a storm. The boss broke the uncomfortable silence with these words. "I am disappointed. I don't want to discuss anything now. We will talk tomorrow." The boss's voice was cold, and the employee felt an imaginary knife piercing his heart.

At this point, please refrain from jumping to a conclusion about the effectiveness of the advice of delivery good news first.  Even though the boss's voice was cold reflecting oodles of disappointment, he didn't end the call immediately as he proclaimed. On the contrary, the boss stayed with the employee for another 20 minutes, instructing on the next course of action.  I am not sure if the bad news turned into good. Anyways, that tale is for another day. Meanwhile, what do you think of this tale? Was there a moral? Or is this just another quirky tale about the complicated relationship between a boss and an employee?

Photo Courtesy: Chris Potter