Many people leaders struggle handling difficult conversations with their employees.
If you haven’t been in this situation, then it’s only a matter of time. Here are three tips you can use next time you discover an employee problem that needs addressing.
1| Addressing Skill-Based Problems
Is the problem skill based, like someone consistently submitting an expense report late or with errors?
If the issue is skill based, then you can approach the person and say, “I know you are so skilled at your job, and I don’t doubt that skill. However, I do see that you consistently struggle with turning in your expense report accurately and at the agreed upon time. Can you tell me a little about what is happening with your current process?”
By doing this, you decrease the chances of them reacting defensively.
2| Addressing Personal Problems
Is the problem personal, like an employee who consistently shoots down other team members’ ideas in meetings?
When the issue is personal in nature, you can approach the person by letting them know that one of your top priorities is having them be successful and that you need to share information that is sensitive.
By sharing that you want them to be successful, the person is more likely to take the information with a more constructive mindset.
3| Practice Makes Perfect
My third tip is to practice this conversation, so you appear comfortable having it. The more relaxed you are, the better the conversation will go.
Of course the worst thing to do is nothing. Issues like these will not go away when we ignore them.
Keep in mind that meetings can turn into difficult conversations as well. If a meeting goes off track and is no longer productive, you should stop the activity and bring the group back to purpose.
On the other hand, if the conversation turned unproductive to the point where the group needs a break, then there’s no shame in rescheduling the meeting.
My favorite book, and I read it at least every 18 months is, Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high by Patterson, Grenny and McMillian.
What do you do for difficult conversations? Comment below or get in touch.