Avionics News February 2013 - 55
There’s no good way to break bad news,
but SPIKES helps you sensitively and
successfully accomplish what needs to be
done, and it beats the alternative.
you’re going to say – including the
tone and points you want to make
– and identify the outcome you
Determine the appropriate time.
Most likely, this is as soon as possible so receivers don’t feel like
they have been kept in the dark.
If possible and practical, early
mornings are exponentially better
than late afternoons – particularly
Friday afternoons – for a couple of
reasons. First, you want to be available to answer the inevitable questions; second, afternoons will just
ruin their evenings or weekends.
Block time on your schedule for
both delivery and fallout, and hold
Next, decide where you’ll do it.
In the case of news that affects a
group, speak to them all at once
to ensure everyone hears the same
message. If the bad news involves
a single employee, find someplace
where he or she is most comfortable; arrange some privacy, have
some tissues handy, sit next to the
person instead of across a desk, and
make connection, either with eye
contact or by touching the person’s
arm, if appropriate.
If it’s a customer, break the news
in person or, if absolutely necessary, by telephone. Don’t do it via
voicemail or email; if you can’t get
in touch with them, leave a message that you have an important
update and ask for a return call
P = Perception
Assess your receiver’s understanding of the state of your business, the individual’s work performance or the status of a repair or
installation. Before you tell, ask
open-ended questions to gain a reasonably accurate picture of how he
or she perceives the situation.
Hopefully, you regularly communicate with employees and customers, so chances are the receiver
already suspects something is
amiss. In the case of employees,
this step allows you to correct misinformation and tailor the message,
such as a negative performance
review, in a way he or she understands. Defuse any denial, wishful
thinking or unrealistic expectations
he or she may foster.
Likewise, with customers, you
have probably already informed
the owner of an older aircraft of
potential complications that could
delay or expand the scope of work.
Indeed, this should be in the bid
or contract, along with how your
shop deals with jobs that don’t go
as planned. By explaining these
realities early, you keep predictable problems from looking like
excuses. This discussion should not
contain information that’s a complete surprise, just an unfortunate
I = Invitation
Obtain permission to break the
news. Often, this comes as a question to you – for clarification of
rumors, status updates or simply
an expressed desire to cut to the
chase. In this case, breaking the
news comes easier. Of course,
some receivers don’t want to know
the gory details; they just want to
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