NEW YORK (MainStreet) Although holding your tongue until Monday may be an exercise in patience, alerting your employees to changes in the workplace at the end of the week can be a disaster. Even if you're eager to make personnel changes or impart news to your staff, experts say it's probably better if you don't do it on a Friday. Employees who have no reason to stress may spend the entire weekend worrying, and if only part of the staff gets the message, rumors could spread that disrupt the whole company. We checked in with experts who gave us their thoughts on the five types of messages that should never be delivered at the end of the week.
1. A reprimand
If the employee isn't going to be terminated or suspended, a reprimand or criticism is better held until Monday, says Jennette Pokorny, vice president of marketing and communications at EverNext HR.
"It's always better to wait until Monday if it's not a time sensitive topic," Pokorny says. "When you have to sit down with someone and share something negative, it's not just going to affect their weekend it's going to affect your weekend, too."
In cases where a reprimand cannot wait instances of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior or dangerous behavior the employee must be dealt with immediately, Pokorny clarifies. But in less serious cases, having the conversation on a Friday can lead to an even worse conversation the next week.
"If you talk this out on a Friday, the employee could spend the weekend stewing over it and come back on Monday angry and withdrawn. This could affect the entire office," she says. "But if you do it on a Monday, often any negativity can be handled in one day."
2. A less than favorable review of a project or performance
Avoid any conversation that may cause employees to question their value, says Tracy Benson, founder and CEO of business consultancy On the Same Page.
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"Avoid shaking their confidence or chiseling at their self-esteem," Benson says. "This includes a less than favorable performance evaluation or negative feedback on a project, outcome or issue."
These types of conversations are especially dangerous when they're had in haste, Pokorny says.
"You can't say, 'Hey Phil, I know it's Friday at 4:55, but you're doing a crappy job. Have a good weekend!'" she says. "He's going to go home feeling like crud, not really sure what he's doing wrong."
When conversations like these are had on a Monday or Tuesday, the person getting the bad news will have time to follow up with their manager for clarification or to discuss ways to improve, Pokorny says.
3. Downsizing or cutting back on hours
Many companies think "ripping the Band-Aid off" on a Friday is a good thing so people can spend the weekend with their families absorbing the bad news, Pokorny says, but oftentimes the weekend is just an opportunity for negative rumors to spread.
"Maybe you have some people whose hours are being cut or some who are being laid off, but you can't do that quietly on a Friday, or you're going to come on Monday to a whole office of upset workers," she says.
Unfortunately in these cases, what you may have tried to convey to the employees who were cut or reduced is not going to be what you overhear at the water cooler on Monday.
"You are potentially poisoning your staff over the weekend," she says. "If you have a single mom and this job is the only way for her to feed her kid, she will spend all weekend worrying if she is going to be next."
Also see: 7 Ways to Hang Onto Your Best Employees>>
4. Changes in company structure or operation
It's best to avoid talk of "significant changes" that may result in some employees taking on different roles, including a change to the company's internal structure, plans to move operations or office space to another location or a decision to discontinue a product or service, Benson says.
"When you drop a bomb without the opportunity to be around to clarify the message or respond to questions, you're leaving the employee to interpret and conjecture on her own," she explains. "And if that's not bad enough because she rarely has all the information needed to get it right she will likely chew it over with friends or family. In helping her wrestle with the news, whose interest do they have at heart: hers or your company?"
Never assume that employees won't have questions once news is shared, Pokorny says they will always have questions. If you can't allow enough time before the end of day to sit and meet with your employees individually or as a group, then the news is best held for later.
5. Pre-conversation teasers
"If you're planning to share big news with your team on a Monday, don't preface the conversation with a teaser the Friday before," says Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders. "The worst thing you can do is plant a seed of fear on a Friday afternoon and let it fester all weekend long. Chances are, your colleagues' imaginations will get the best of them and imagine an outcome far worse than the reality of the situation."
Even saying something as innocuous as "Come by and see me next week" can have a negative impact, says Time Sullivan, executive business coach with ActionCoach in Houston, Texas.
"Even if the conversation is nothing to worry about, an employee may not know that and look for a job all weekend and potentially find a better opportunity," Sullivan says. "Furthermore, an employee worrying all weekend reduces productivity on Monday as a result of their lack of sleep and inability to relax."
By Kathryn Tuggle