If you were to take a guess at the employee issue that causes owners and managers the most anxiety, what would it be? Performance, productivity, managing personalities? It’s actually none of these.
The employee issue that causes managers the most amount of stress is how to have that “chat” or difficult conversation with an employee. Now that “chat” or difficult conversation could be for any number of reasons, including:
Avoiding these difficult conversations is understandable and very common. But doing so can have far-reaching effects, for instance:
So don’t put these “chats” off. Here are three practical ways to navigate a difficult conversation in the office.
When we are talking about conflict, emotions often run high and going into the conversation unprepared will set you up for an unproductive and contentious debate. Taking the time to prepare mentally will help you to remain calm, increase the chances that the conversation will go smoothly and improve the ultimate solution.
2. Ask powerful questions
By asking questions early on the conversation you give the other person a voice, avoid blunt and unhelpful statements, for example, “I hate working on this team”, and open up a space for meaningful discussion. However, refrain from asking irrelevant questions as these can do more harm than good, as well as statements phrased in the form of a question, for example, “What were you thinking?”
3. Acknowledge and then motivate for change
It’s important to understand and acknowledge the behaviour of others, even when it is wrong, if you want to get them to first discuss it and then change. If you acknowledge that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or happens to other people, it makes finding a solution easier. Then to create long lasting change in other people, you need to give them the motivation to do so. For instance, give them a benefit for changing their behaviour and express confidence in them.
Next time you face a difficult conversation with an employee don’t try to avoid it or attempt to “wing” it. Following these steps won’t make these “chats” any more enjoyable or less awkward, but you will be more likely to get a positive result following your “chat”.
Dayna Edwards, Director, PeopleStart