Difficult workplace conversations

From time to time all managers will need to face conversations which they anticipate will be difficult and they may feel unable to handle them. So this can lead to further problems arising if the original reason for the difficult conversation is not addressed. Difficult conversations often involve;

  • poor performance issues
  • unacceptable workplace behaviour such as bullying
  • providing development feedback
  • dealing with sensitive personal employee issues
  • turning down holiday or leave requests
  • dealing with potential redundancy announcements
  • handling disciplinary issues.

Don’t delay action

If you delay taking action in the hope that the issue will be resolved it is highly unlike to lead to a positive outcome. Ignoring the issues can lead to the original issue becoming more difficult to resolve.

So if you tackle problems at an early stage it may help to resolve the issues and this would prevent an escalation and breakdown of workplace colleague relationships.

Our natural instinct to avoid the intensity and the emotions of a difficult conversation is quite normal. So fear of reactions, vulnerability or even a loss of control for both the manager and individual are reasonable worries. If managers adopt the right approach, preparing carefully and have developed the right skills, mindset and behaviour, they can handle the conversation better and guide it to a successful conclusion that is acceptable to all parties involved.

Lack of action causes more issues, so address the situation and ensure that it is managed effectively.

Managers Tips:

  1. Be clear on the purpose of the conversation, avoid anything that is not fact
  2. Adopt the right approach, and plan the conversation
  3. Provide the staff member with opportunity for preparation
  4. Recognise your emotional state and have strategies in place
  5. Challenge any assumptions or beliefs you may have, avoid anything that is not fact and cannot be proven
  6. Open the conversation
  7. Present your side of the conversation
  8. Listen to the staff member explanation, listen actively and avoid interruption
  9. Handle your reactions carefully, be mindful of the staff members reactions
  10. Find the middle ground and reach an agreeable solution

If your business would like to support your new or current managers, please contact TA Barker Associates for a no obligation review of your requirements info@tabarkerassociates.co.uk

We run regular new manager training programmes, speak to us about the next available dates

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