“Need to Have a Hard Conversation With an Employee? Follow These Tips”

06.20.18 | Management Tips

Few managers wake up in the morning excited to provide some negative feedback to an employee. On the contrary, many will avoid having these conversations, especially early in their time as a supervisor. Despite the challenge and potential awkwardness of these conversations, sometimes they are necessary. Next time you have to discuss a hard topic with an employee, follow these tips.

Be Prepared but not Rehearsed

When walking into these conversations, you need to stay focused on the issue and get right to the point. Avoiding it with other lines of thought and excuses might confuse the employee or lead them into a false sense of security. Plan out what you want to say to keep it direct, but avoid writing a script to follow exactly. You want it to be a real conversation, and rehearsed lines can interrupt the natural flow or even make it seem more robotic and less emotional.

Think About How They’re Going to Feel

Take a moment to consider how you would feel if you were on the opposite end of this conversation. What would be the best way to phrase and discuss the issue without being unnecessarily harsh or abrupt? This level of empathy will help you communicate and allow you to explain the matter more effectively.

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Don’t Make It About You

It’s really easy in these situations to over-explain how upset you are or how bad you feel for having to have this conversation. If they get upset, you may result into defense statements such as ‘imagine how hard this is for me.’ As the manager, it’s your job to maintain composure and contain the reaction of your employee. While they might say hurtful things or become upset, you must control your emotions to keep the situation from escalating.

End as Positively as Possible

Certain situations might not provide the opportunity to end on a positive note, but do your best to find the silver lining for your employee. Walking away with negativity in the air can cause lingering distrust or worry, whereas positivity can help stabilize the conversation and let everyone feel more hopeful.

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