Leda Writes for Fintech Futures: Getting bad news is a good thing

Dr Leda Glyptis 11:FS Foundry CEO
5min read

Every Thursday, Leda Glyptis, 11:FS Chief of Staff creates #LedaWrites. This week she turns her attention to blaming rather than fixing, shooting the messenger and trying not to kill the canary in the coal mine.

I’ve worked in banks long enough to both witness and participate in conversations about who should tell the boss about something going wrong. A delay, a mistake or a miscalculation. It doesn’t matter, something went wrong. And the team needs to decide whether or not to tell the boss.

Somebody will ask what mood he’s in today, another will debate telling him in person or writing an email but everyone will brace themselves. The last time we had to do this the boss put us through the wringer and looked for someone to blame.

So who’s going to tell him this time? Maybe we could wait a few days in case it all resolves itself. Sure we won’t benefit from the superior knowledge our elders and better allegedly have.

But maybe exchanging dignity for finishing on time isn’t worth it. The constant jibes that will come from delivering the message - waiting until the next mistake means someone else is getting it in the neck. The boss may never find out, things go wrong every day.

Picture this: managers, your boss, having a hard day because someone above them rained on their parade, they were bullied and dismissed. And someone below them brings bad news. The managers have just left a battle. A battle they lost and haven’t realised this isn’t one.

The boss sees something that can be fixed immediately, with leadership or process. But the boss asks the wrong questions, demanding who not why and shot the messenger while doing it.

So the messenger learns that the boss doesn’t want to address problems, he wants to punish people. He wants to tackle the manifestation, not the issue it represents. He wants to diminish implication.

Bringing bad news is hard. Being the boss is hard. But when bad news comes no-one cares what kind of day you’re having. You’re the person who needs to fix things, right the course and know better.

A team member bringing bad news is a precious thing. They’re the canary in the mine. Don’t be the guy that kills it.

Read the full story at Fintech Futures.