Jeff Hahn on Delivering Bad News and Crisis Communications [Podcast]


Adam Turteltaub PhotoPosted by:  Adam Turteltaub

Nobody likes delivering bad news, but if you’re in compliance and ethics, you’re going to have to do it sooner or later.  When that time comes, it’s essential you do so in the best way possible.

In this podcast, Jeff Hahn (LinkedIn), author and the owner and principal of Hahn Marketing & Communications, reveals that one secret for sharing bad news is to provide the right context.  Give management the salient facts and avoid burdening them with every detail.  Second, he advises following what he has dubbed “The Goldilocks Rule”.  Present options that are not hot enough, not cold enough, and just right.  In practice this means ranging from doing nothing to doing something extreme.  Generally, the “just right” option prevails and enables leadership to feel bought in to the path forward.

Once the goals are set and the organization’s response moves into the implementation stage, it’s time to bring in the line managers.  That conversation, he relates, needs to be focused on implementation, and the conversation switches from creative to directive.

What about the wider workforce?  It’s important to remember that they are brand ambassadors.  Inform them to the best of your abilities.  Be authentic, and remember that they can check up on you from the inside.

When it comes to external communications, the compliance team can be invaluable in creating stakeholder talking points, including a timeline of what happened when.

Finally, the conversation explores what not to do a crisis.  There are three things to avoid:

  1. Make an absolute and outright denial, unless the claim is obviously false and ridiculous
  2. Attack the accusers
  3. Scapegoat, especially those who are tangential to the core issue

Listen in to learn more about how to break bad news and be an integral, appreciated part of a crisis response.