Difficult Conversations

Julie: “What? That’s what you called me in here for? What about all the other people that come late? I don’t see you talking to them. And besides, I work WAY harder than most of those people when I am here.”

Employer: “Julie, we’re not here to talk about anyone else. I value your work here and appreciate all the effort you have put in over the years. Now we need to take care of these lates.”

When you’re a manager or a supervisor, having a difficult conversation like this with one of your staff about their work performance is just that….it’s difficult. If you choose not to have it however, or put it off, the behaviour youre trying to correct may never change, and having the conversation about it gets even harder.

My advice to you is to do it as soon as possible, and in order to help, I’d like to share a 5-step process that you can use.

Step #1 – Preparation – You need to prepare yourself in terms of thinking about what you want to get out of the conversation and what you want the relationship with your staff to be after it’s done. Ultimately, you want the staff person to acknowledge that they need to change a behaviour and that they are willing to try somethingto do just that.  If you want to maintain a professional relationship with your staff member, then you need to treat them with respect, and acknowledge that there may be some extenuating circumstances going on in their personal lives. You also want to prepare the staff member by letting them know that you have something difficult to say to them.

Step #2 – Get to the point – Don’t sugar coat or talk about something else to ease into it, just get it done!

Step #3 – Link – Make sure you link how the change in behaviour that you’re looking for fits in with company policy and values. It’s important for the staff member to see why you are bringing this up and where it fits in the organizational scheme of things.

Step #4 – Plan – Come up with a plan together on how to change the behaviour. It’s crucial for the staff member to participate in this process in order to have some buy-in from them. It’s also a good idea to set a time limit for how long the plan should be in place.

Step #5 – Follow Through – Make sure you set up a meeting at the end of the time limit you agreed upon and evaluate how things are going. Be prepared that changing behaviour doesn’t always happen right away and you may, in fact, need several difficult conversations for the same situation. Be patient!

Here’s a video to show how to have one of these difficult conversations…