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The Grossman Group CEO and communications expert David Grossman shares his insights on the importance of meaningful leadership communication in today’s business climate. With high level tips on engagement and connection, insights into employee motivations and behavior, and firsthand stories from the frontlines of America’s leading companies.

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Difficult Messages Made Easy in the Workplace


difficult messages, tough conversations, employee communication, communications consultant, organizational change, david grossman, change

It’s never easy to communicate difficult information to a group of employees, but with these six essential steps, you can prepare for the toughest conversations:

1. Identify the problem. Are business results not where they should be? Do staffing changes need to be made? Are there undesired behaviors that need to change?

2. Identify your desired outcome. Are you trying to put business news in context for your employees? Do you need your team to understand changes that are underway? Do you need desired behaviors to become the norm among your staff?

3. Identify your audience. Do you need to inform your entire staff? Is it a small group of employees? Is it one employee? And should they all hear the message at the same time, or should some people hear it first?

4. Structure your key messages/conversation.

  • What do you want your audience(s) to think, feel and/or do?
  • What will you say (in a calm, constructive way) to employee(s) so that they understand the situation and your concerns.
      • Consider how to start the conversation.
      • Share your motivation and intent
      • Identify the questions you will ask (to see input/check for understanding). For example, “Tell me how you feel about what I just said.”
      • Have stories or examples to share to illustrate your main point.
      • Outline specific actions being taken and/or that your employees need to take.

5. Consider how you will say your message. Select the right time and place to have a conversation with privacy and without distraction. Encourage dialogue so you can get real-time insight on how employees are receiving the information and if they understand what you are saying.

6. Follow up. Do your employees have questions? What’s on their minds?

How do you relay tough messages to your employees?

- David Grossman


Are you a leader or communicator looking to master the art of messaging? Download our free eBook, today! 


I find that communicating difficult messages works best when it's done one-on-one since the message will impact each person differently and you need to "see" how the message is impacting that person in order to have the most productive discussion with them. 
Delivering a difficult message in a group is much less productive on a couple of fronts: 1) you cannot see the reaction of each person as they are receiving the message; 2) the people to whom you are delivering the message will not give you their honest feedback or questions because they are hesitant to say what's really on their mind as a group. 
This is why I am a strong proponent of one-on-one's versus focus groups. The group will influence the individual in a way that will prevent you from learning what the individual is really thinking and feeling.
Posted @ Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:09 PM by Tom Smith
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