How to Prepare Yourself For an Unpleasant Conversation With Your Staff 2: 5 (More) Tips

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 13:43
How to Prepare Yourself For an Unpleasant Conversation With Your Staff 2: 5 (More) Tips

When you have your first offspring nobody tells you the extent of the sleepless nights beforehand. Likewise, not many people like to talk about the unpleasant parts of running a business, apart from the expected financial struggles.

Aware of our customers’ needs and fears, these two blog posts will prepare you for dealing with one of the stickiest situations. What steps should you follow when having an unpleasant conversation with a member of your staff?

1. Accept the Awkward Silences

At some point in the conversation things may grind to a halt, whether that is a stalemate on a hot issue or simply that one road has reached a natural dead end. Being comfortable with the dreaded ‘uncomfortable silence’ may sound like an impossible task, but being prepared for it will allow you to move through it more smoothly.

2. Look for the Solution, Not the Culprit

A good leader doesn’t focus on whose fault something is. They focus on how to fix the issue. In the most difficult of situations the fix or resolution may unfortunately mean letting someone go, but even in those situations, ensure you keep focus on the issues and not apportioning blame.

3. Manage Emotions

Don’t allow a meeting to get away from you by allowing emotions to govern proceedings. Particularly in a disciplinary or when having to let someone go, things can get heated. Show compassion and understanding but maintain composure and don’t allow emotion to determine a decision.

In the case that things get too heated; it can be wise to suggest a short break where both parties can cool down and come back to the table fresh.

4. Choose the Right Place and the Right Time

Conflict resolution can be hard enough without the added pressure of the office environment. Depending on the situation, calling someone into your office may not be the best strategy. It can create a more intimidating atmosphere and make the employee more guarded.

If you want them to open up and offer valuable input you might want to consider a more neutral venue such as a meeting room, or even somewhere more relaxed like a local coffee shop. Just make sure that you can have privacy and that the employee doesn’t feel they are being ambushed.

5. Resolve Conflict and Preserve the Relationship

A large portion of employers and managers come out of these meetings regretting at least one aspect of how things went and often felt they could have dealt with things better. We are all only human after all.

The important thing is to go into such meetings with a positive mindset. Look for a solution that can offer something to both parties. If that only amounts to some positive reinforcement or advice, then it is at least a start.

Giving something back to the employee can be a big part in preserving the relationship, which moving forward will allow everyone to feel a little better about what was a difficult conversation.