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When you're the bearer of bad news - Insight for a Primary Care Network Leader

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

At THC Primary Care, we provide resources for Primary Care Network leaders.

In this blog, we are tackling the topic of giving bad news and providing feedback.

There are many blog posts out there to tell you how to manage these situations with key phrases to say, the ideal setup for a room, the type of environment and the mindset you should be in to deliver these conversations. However, despite this preparation, it can still be very difficult.

This post isn't the usual 'how-to' guide about managing difficult conversations. It’s an insight into how it feels to be the bearer of bad news and the one giving constructive feedback.

I also recorded a podcast, covering the same topics, so if you prefer to listen to this, check the episode out here or click the graphic below

Otherwise please keeping reading 👇🏾

When you are the bearer of bad news insight for a primary care network leader

Difficult conversations at work are challenging and uncomfortable but ultimately unavoidable.

If you're anything like me, a lot of time has gone in behind the scenes thinking about how best to deliver the feedback.

You question whether the issue is even an issue. You also question whether you are being too tough. Are you being fair, and are you taking into consideration everything else that is going on?

You are asking yourself, is this a formal conversation that needs to be documented? Can it be a quick chat, and do you need to gather and document evidence to back up your claims and concerns?

You wrestle with this decision because you don't want to feel like you're being unreasonable or make a potentially difficult conversation even worse with incorrect facts, statements or poor preparation.

I believe an effective leader is always reflecting on their own performance as well as the performance of the team.

I also believe that during difficult times we have to ask ourselves, what has our role and position been in this particular situation?

With these factors taken into consideration, along with advice from our closest confidants, we should now be in a position to decide whether we are going to raise the issue.

If we decide to move forward and deliver the feedback, we are then waiting for the next move to be made, being mindful that facial expressions and body language from the person delivering and receiving the message may not truly convey what is being felt.

If the receiver cries, even though it's hard and upsetting to see, we must keep our composure and be prepared to further explain our position and/ or the consequences.

However, inside, you're thinking 'Oh s***' or you are fighting hard not to cry or display any anger or frustration yourself. I once cried when I had to fire my assistant during the Christmas period. She had to go, but I felt terrible! I didn't cry in front of her, but I did cry once she left the room.

The receiver may shout, deny, quit on the spot, swear or just remain poised and in control. Meanwhile, you are trying to ready yourself with a suitable and professional response. This feels scary and uncomfortable while trying to keep your emotions under control.

So now the deed is done, and you both have to face the office colleagues. They don’t know what has gone on or what has been said, and the whispers start even if the conversation ends on a positive note... but it’s over (you hope!).

In my experience – there is always a sense of relief after the event. I may replay the conversation, but I have learnt to move forward and act quickly when I see something that needs addressing. Afterwards, the past needs to remain in the past.

This blog is simply to say, giving feedback is challenging. So much so, many of us don't provide feedback out of fear. We say nothing and let resentment build, we expect people to be mind readers and judge others by our own standards without communicating effectively.

One tool which has helped me tremendously is the Core Strengths Assessment. I loved it so much that I became a certified practitioner. More details can be found here about how I work closely with dedicated healthcare leaders to drive and direct the enhancement of their team performance with the Strengths Deployment Inventory.

I hope this post resonates with some of you 😊.


About the author

I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 200 episodes. I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 120 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy. I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs.

I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.


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