The Diplomacy Behind Presenting Bad News

Portfolio managers must be supremely sensitive to the potential consequences of the analyses they are creating, but must also not shy away from presenting an analysis which could be bad news for someone.  Managers must perceive the portfolio manager as the messenger.  They may not shoot the messenger, but the portfolio manager doesn’t have to take such risks anyway as long as some simple diplomatic strategies are followed.

  • Make sure the data is unchallengeable – that the data is real (see Data Integrity).  Best if you can say “ahem, this is your data”.
  • Make sure your senior manager has time to reflect on the data beforehand and consider the ramifications.
  • Make sure those managers who will be affected by the data see it before it goes public.

If a change in policy is likely to result from the analysis, the portfolio manager can nurture the change management process by suggesting scenarios and offering to help with communication.