Share bad news with your boss

You can reveal your true leadership potential when you use the DARN process to share bad news with your boss:

  • Disclosure. Tell your boss the full details, explaining the situation and the circumstances leading up to it. Example: “We missed the cutoff date to file the extension because we hadn’t gathered all the data. We will have to pay fines totaling $3,000.”
  • Accountability. Don’t point fingers or place blame. Instead, accept full responsibility for the problem. Example: “I accept responsibility. I should have been clearer with Ben about what I needed and set progress checks along the way.”
  • Response. Explain the steps you are taking to minimize the damage and right the situation. Example: “I have redone the budget to allow for the expense and set up payments to pay the fine out over six months.”
  • Next steps. Share your solution to preventing the problem in the future. “Ben and I have created a list of items he needs to compile every month, and we have scheduled monthly check-in dates to ensure we are on track.”

Note: Your boss may still be upset, but that process tells him or her that you have taken ownership of the problem, that you are working to resolve it, and that you are taking precautions to prevent it from happening again.

— Adapted from “How to Give Your Boss Bad News (the D.A.R.N. way),” Karin Hurt, Let’s Grow Leaders,


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