Probably the second worst experience after firing someone that a boss has to do is telling a hopeful employee that they didn’t get the promotion.

Not only is it difficult for the deliverer of bad news, but it’s also a knock to the confidence of the employee, and any manager should approach the situation with care to avoid making them feel useless. The disappointment, confusion and anger on their face could be enough to break even the hardest boss, but there are ways you can break the news to an employee without it being a nightmare situation.

Don’t get me wrong, these tips aren’t going to turn a disheartened employee into one full of love for the company that refused them a promotion they were sure they had in the bag, but it might just make the process a little easier.

So here we are, some helpful tips on how to let someone know they didn’t get the promotion they had been hoping for.

interview body language

Don’t call your employee in for the meeting when they’re visibly stressed or having a bad day. You will only make the situation worse and they won’t react well if they’re already stressed. Aim to deliver the news at the beginning of the day, when they’re fresh and calm and will be more receptive to your constructive feedback.

Do meet in private. This should go without saying, but make sure you break the bad news in a private meeting, away from the prying eyes and eager listening ears of fellow employees. Imagine you had just been told you weren’t good enough for a promotion, would you want the whole office knowing too? Thought not.

Don’t beat around the bush. The worst thing you could do in this situation is prolong the situation. The employee will, more likely than not, be coming into the meeting full of hope and expectation about the promotion. Dragging the meeting out before telling them the bad news is just downright mean.

Do focus on the positives. While it’s important to give constructive feedback about a lack of qualifications or experience for a promotion, it’s also vital to give the employee some positive feedback to leave the meeting with. Focus on what they do well now in their current position and how you wouldn’t want to lose them from that role.

Don’t talk too much about the person who got the promotion. If you must mention who pipped the employee to the post for the promotion, avoid talking about their suitability for the role too much as it will feel like you’re rubbing it in their face, even if you’re only trying to be constructive. Mention who got the promotion and move back onto focusing on the employee in hand.

Do answer any questions the employee has. They’re guaranteed to be hurt or upset that they missed out on a better role, and will have a lot of questions for you. Refusing to answer these questions will frustrate the employee even more, so try and be as helpful as you can, even if that means giving generic answers to their questions.

One final point, make sure you end the meeting on a good note. Reiterate your happiness with their current performance and mention a possible future position for them. Giving them something to strive for will encourage the employee to work even harder, and not slack due to feeling disheartened.

So there we have it, some helpful tips on how to tell an employee they didn’t get the promotion. Do you agree with these points, or can you add some tips of your own?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs! :)