Breaking bad… News, that is.

The other day, an interesting email came across my inbox. For privacy purposes, I’ve removed names:

Subject: [Name of Person] Resignation

To Whom It May Concern: [Name], our COO, has resigned.  Please erase her contact information. We will let you know when we have found a replacement COO.

[Name], Executive Assistant

When I read this, I cringed a bit, and one of my initial thoughts was, “Well, that didn’t end on a good note, did it? Ouch!” As it turns out, I already knew about the resignation, as the former COO was a contact of mine. I was likely on this list simply because my contact information was included in her contacts list in Outlook. However, given this insight, I knew there was more than a month to plan how to communicate her resignation to key stakeholders and the public – and in what order.

Whether intended or not, the communication that I received came across as a cold afterthought that didn’t give any insight into next steps, who to contact in the meantime should we have a need to communicate with the organization or to use as an opportunity to pull in positive information about the organization.

Whether the relationship between this person and the organization ended on a good or bad note, the image conveyed should always be positive. So, here’s my 2 cents on breaking “bad” news:

It is never desirable to lose a key team member like a COO or to have to share bad news with your stakeholders. But when it does happen, use it as an opportunity to share other great things, not just close a chapter in your HR history book.