How to Prepare Yourself For an Unpleasant Conversation With Your Staff 1: 6 Tips
Leadership is a lot trickier than simply telling people what to do. Any boss can do that. A leader leads, and to do that you need to be confident and prepared for any situation.
This could mean talking to a member of staff about anything from a violation of procedure, a disciplinary issue or perhaps having to let them go. These conversations are never easy, but with the right planning and the right mentality you can come to a resolution for that must-have unpleasant conversation.
1. Do You Need a Witness?
First and foremost, does the conversation require a witness to be present? In the case of disciplinary procedures for instance, an additional person will almost certainly be required to sit in. This can be in the position of note taker or simply as a silent witness. The employee can also request a witness be present on their behalf.
Failing to bring a witness to certain required situations can constitute a breach of procedure so be sure to check beforehand what is required for the type of meeting you are having.
2. Respect Confidentiality
If this is a difficult conversation, then it is almost certainly not for the ears of anyone else outside of those involved. You may be tempted to vent frustrations or run something by someone external to the company, but don’t.
This could easily lead to division, distrust and a lack of respect for the privacy of others. Only those involved and the required witnesses should be made aware of the situation.
3. Be Clear about the Issue at Hand
It is vital that you make clear the issue which needs resolved. While a certain amount of tact may be important, talking in circles or ‘beating around the bush’ is no good to anyone. Make clear to the employee what it is you want from them - whether it is an apology, a change of behaviour or something else.
As soon as everyone is on the same page, you can start moving forward together.
4. Have a Resolution Prepared
While the conversation may take you in slightly unexpected directions, you should certainly have some form of resolution prepared beforehand. While you might not present this as the final solution, it will provide a fall-back option when no other mutually-agreed solution is apparent.
5. Don’t Script the Conversation
While planning is good, scripting an entire conversation with a staff member is not. You or the employee may bring something else to the discussion and locking yourself into a strict dialogue just isn’t going to work.
Also, a scripted conversation will always sound just that. This will be apparent to the employee as it will sound artificial and likely insincere, which can certainly sour the conversation and put a halt to any valuable resolution.
6. Be Open to Others' Input but Remain Consistent
Going into an unpleasant situation with staff, whether you’re being forced to let someone go or take disciplinary measures, means getting a difficult point across to them. However, the employee may have some valuable points of their own which you hadn’t considered.
Remain consistent, but be open to an employee’s input and perspective as it very well could lead to a better solution for everyone.
If you’d like to know more tips on how to be ready to talk with a difficult member of your staff, click here.