When faced with a difficult conversation, you must be prepared to deal with it. It is often incorrectly stated that only bad leaders face difficult conversations in the workplace. This is a FALSE statement. If you are in today’s workplace, it is hard to avoid difficult conversations as they may include:
- Encouraging improved employee performance
- Sharing unwelcome news to a customer
- Furloughing or terminating an employee position
- Requesting different vendor terms
The items above represent only a small subset of the possible difficult conversations that occur in the workplace. However, the way we deal with these conversations often follow the same process.
When faced with these types of conversations, keep in mind that the conversations should not be avoided. While avoidance may seem like an easier option, it can result in a negative work environment. Communication is at the foundation of working through these conversations. One must be ready to talk openly, and this is even more critical in the workplace.
Make sure you understand the issue and take the initiative to start the conversation as soon as you realize that a discussion is needed. The following tips will help you have that difficult conversation.
Take the bull by the horns and address the issue.
Leave emotions at the door. Watch your tone and focus on roles, timeframes, and responsibilities instead of emotions. Make sure everyone understands the concern by being transparent and specific.
Be open to compromise for the cause of the greater good and be aware of different perspectives within the room.
Keep It Private
As a rule, employees expect leadership representatives to maintain confidentiality. However, there are exceptions when other departments are involved or if the conversation involves actions that must be documented.
Provide a Plan to Move Forward
Business leaders should remember that they are also coaches. It is your responsibility to provide everything needed for your staff to succeed. Conversations should provide the other person with some benefit, even if simply what future actions should look like.
When applicable, review the conversation carefully. Once the problem has been resolved or improved, let the employee know. Discuss your guidance with them briefly and informally. They’ll feel more confident as a result.