Merge's Blog

Need to have a difficult conversation with an employee?

Mgr-Emp-1Difficult conversations are just that … difficult … which is why so many of us keep putting them off. Has this ever happened to you? You have a problem or an issue you need to bring up with one of your employees – perhaps it’s a missed deadline, or constant tardiness, or a complaint from a customer – but things are overwhelmingly busy around the office and you can’t seem to make the time. Plus let’s face it, you’re not exactly looking forward to the conversation. So you might do what so many others in your situation do – you say, in passing, to your employee “We need to talk, but now is not a good time.” Don’t.

Why? Well, for one, the anticipation of not knowing what’s going on (even though your employee likely has some idea) will make your staff member feel apprehensive. Essentially you will be creating unease and anxiety without providing an opportunity to alleviate it. If your goal is to resolve the situation or get the employee to change their behaviour, then you’ve created a losing proposition before you’ve even started. Two, whether you meant it that way or not, this is a controlling statement, and again, if your desired outcome is intended to be positive, then you’ve failed at the onset. Far better to wait to bring it up when you are actually prepared to talk about it. Speaking of which, if this is an important question, then why are you putting it off? Quite frankly, will there ever be a good time to have a difficult conversation? So think through what you’re going to say, make the time and have the conversation.

Have to found yourself in this situation? Please, tell us how you’ve overcome it (or not)?

P.S. If you’re looking for specific tips on how to have difficult conversations with your employees, my blog is rife with them. Here are two video blogs I’ve done in the past, plus browse the Tough Situation Tools category on the blog by clicking on the link at the end of this post, or on the right banner of the blog.

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