Sharing Bad News On Project Success

A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed much lower willingness to share negative information on a project as it got closer to completion. The study was done on undergraduate students with reference to a fictional project. If the project was only 10% complete then at least 6 out of 10 people would share negative information on the project. However at 90% completion fewer than 2 out of 10 people were willing to share bad news on the project.


  1. Supports the idea that many people are not comfortable sharing bad news.
  2. If people are going to share bad news, they will be more likely to do it earlier in a project, than when it’s closer to completion.

Actions You Can Take In Light Of This

  • Do everything you can to encourage sharing of all information, not just the positive. This may take more time and prompting, but it will improve project success.
  • Knowing that as projects progress, people will be reluctant to share bad news, probe on potential problems and risks early in the life of the project, and then set up ways to monitor them.

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