Delivering negative organizational news or information has always been a tricky task since most of the time the target audience of such messages does not want to hear information that could upset them. Thus, it is essential to try and minimize the damage that could occur in business relationships and aim at encouraging the acceptance of bad news, analysis of the situation, and coming up with solutions to address the specific problem that has appeared.
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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Message
An e-mail sent by M. Juhasz to traveling executives included information regarding cutting organizational travel expenses. When it comes to the strengths of this e-mail, several good points should be mentioned. First, the message was straightforward; the author did not spend any time on preparing the audience for the bad news and went straight into the topic of the letter. Second, the e-mail was short and did not contain unnecessary information.
For example, the author could have elaborated on the reasons for the dramatic change in travel expenses but chose to be precise and direct. Third, the message offered solutions to a problem rather than its analysis, which is always a point of strength.
As to the weaknesses of the e-mail, several points could have been improved. First, the message bore a negative tone that is visible through the author’s choice of words: “never, NEVER return a rental car with an empty tank!” or the phrase, “no longer be able to stay in fancy hotels.” To some employees, the overall attitude of the e-mail’s author may have seemed aggressive in places. Second, the e-mail did not prepare its readers for the information they would discover when reading it. Since Mr. Juhasz wants to preserve a trusting relationship with the recipients of the e-mail, he could have taken care to prepare them for the message to lessen any potential damage.
Revised E-Mail Using the Indirect Approach
To change the e-mail using the indirect approach, it is essential to take into consideration such options as opening with a buffer, providing reasons and additional information behind the decision, ensuring that the statement of the bad news is clear, and closing with a polite note. The following is an example of the revised e-mail:
Dear Traveling Executives,
Our company would like to express gratitude and appreciation for the work you are doing for us. Since our department is looking to optimize operations and reduce costs due to unpredicted problems, I am writing to inform you about some new budget suggestions. These will include such tools as using video conference equipment, staying in cheaper hotels, arranging more affordable flights, and flying from less expensive airports.
Black & Decker is currently experiencing some financial problems that need to be resolved as soon as possible to preserve the business; several things can be done to minimize our costs. I recommend you to avoid staying in expensive hotels or making costly changes in travel plans since they directly affect our budget. Other options for you to cut costs include finding free wireless networks or avoiding returning cars with empty tanks since rental agencies usually charge us premium prices on gas.
I understand that this news is unpleasant, but our management urges you to make changes in your usual budget to address the current needs of the company to minimize costs. I advise you to contact me with any questions.