Managing People

Difficult Conversations With Employees

Many managers struggle with having not so pleasant ‘chats’ with their staff. No one likes being the ‘bad person’ or having to discipline staff for any reason. It’s not in most people’s natures to want to instigate difficult conversations or make other uncomfortable. However, it’s an essential area of management which must be handled carefully and professionally. To achieve this, a specific process that ties in with performance management, also listed in this section, is required.

However, there are steps and conversations that should happen to avoid reaching the formal performance management stage or, at the very least, ensure that the process is clear and the next logical step. Performance management should rarely be the first step. Effective communication is the easiest way to avoid difficult conversations and can nip employee issues in the bud as soon as they arise. Ensuring that your company or business has robust policies and procedures is a good support for managers.

Ultimately, a firm and fair approach is always best. Give your staff member a chance to have their say and make sure you have your facts straight before making accusations if the issue being discussed is based on something tangible. The situation, and resulting discussion, may be more complex where a staff member is not ‘fitting into’ the team and the situation is causing difficulties. In such a situation, an exploratory phase is required and managers need to investigate the issues and take positive steps to work with the employee to improve the relationship and resolve any problems. Nine times out of ten, the staff member will be feeling the disconnect as well.

Coaching Combinations can provide HR support, such as coaching managers through discussions and providing correct documentation, to assist managers in addressing complex HR issues and equip them for handling difficult situations in the future. Conversations handled well can save a lot of money. Handled poorly, they can cost the earth!