How to Have a Difficult Conversation with an Employee

It’s never easy to have a difficult conversation in the office, especially if you’re deathly afraid of confrontation. However, it’s impossible to manage a company and not have to approach an employee at some point about their behaviour, insubordination, or work quality, and sometimes even terminate them. Brushing the issue under the rug or simply ignoring it can make the situation worse and negatively affect the workplace, productivity, and other employees. There are several different types of difficult conversations that you might need to have at some point, including policy breaches, coworker complaints, dress code violations, and even workstation cleanliness. As a manager or supervisor, it’s important to know the proper way to handle these conversations, or it could do more harm than good.

Prepare Yourself
Before deciding to have the conversation, get prepared by asking what the behaviour is that’s causing the problem, and what outcome from the behaviour is impacting you, the team, the environment, etc. You need to have an understanding yourself before providing clarity to someone else about the issue. This will also keep the focus on the issue and avoid derailing the conversation.

Choose an Appropriate Location
Before entering the conversation or even calling for a meeting with the individual, decide where it will be held. Finding the right location will set the tone of the meeting. Your office is usually the best place, but depending on your company culture, it might ease the tension if you talk over a cup of coffee or lunch at a food court in the building or nearby; this can lessen the chances of the employee feeling embarrassed. However, if it’s a more formal conversation, your office, a conference room, or a boardroom is probably the most appropriate place.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door
When starting the conversation, be straightforward and tell the individual what the purpose of the meeting is. Be sure to not get caught up in your emotions; keep your feelings in check and don’t let them drive the conversation. Focus on the facts and be careful not to say things like, “I feel disappointed,” which will only add biased emotional elements. It also helps to be aware of your preconceived notions about the situation and the person involved, so make sure to leave that at the door as well.

Be Open and Listen
Be calm and fair during the discussion. Don’t project anger or judgment because that may result in the employee getting defensive and things might get heated. Find a balance between polite and firm; be caring but remain professional. It’s important to be open to hearing what the other person has to say. Be mindful and treat them with respect, even if you completely disagree with them.

Brainstorm
It’s important that you brainstorm solutions during the meeting. Ask the employee in question what they think will work. Out of their ideas or suggestions, build on something you like. Asking for their point of view can create a safe atmosphere and encourage them to engage.

Always Follow Up
Following up after the conversation is a good way to smooth over the relationship between you and your employee. It’s also a good way to check up on their progress if there are any changes they need to make. Don’t micromanage, but keep track of how they’re doing, for as long as you think is necessary. If progress needs to be made, there is a possibility they might backslide.

Putting off a difficult conversation will only do more damage to your business. Holding off on speaking to an employee about their performance or attitude won’t help productivity and might even affect the rest of your team. Practice these tips and prepare your points so that you can mentally prepare and be more effective, confident, and comfortable with having difficult conversations. That way, you can get everyone on your team working together and at their highest potential.

 

Helen Jacob | Staff Writer

Why You Should Take Risks in Your Career and Life

“True entrepreneurship comes only from risk taking.”

Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of Reliance Industries, India’s largest private company

Risk. Not everyone loves it, many try to avoid it, but the people who are most successful are the ones who seek it out and embrace it.

By definition, entrepreneurs are risk-takers. They have an idea, take the initiative and do everything possible, including taking risks, to make their dream a reality. But entrepreneurs shouldn’t be the only ones willing to take risks. If employees, whether at the bottom or the top of the working ladder, want to stand out from the crowd and find opportunities, being a risk-taker is paramount to success.

Not All Risk is Created Equal

There are a variety of types of risk. Calculated risk means people have considered all the angles, the pros and cons, and have decided that the gamble is worth it. Entrepreneurs and those who are tolerant of risk understand that despite their planning, there’s always a chance that the risk won’t pay off, but they embrace it nonetheless. There’s also the no-lose scenario which, according to Cigna, means that if people look at all possible outcomes and each one offers a gain, the risk is definitely worth taking.

Test Your Risk Tolerance

While some people thrive on risk and the opportunities it presents, others try to avoid it at all costs and are content with the life they lead. But many of us fall somewhere in between. People who want new opportunities and a different life need to look at their risk tolerance and learn to step beyond it.

Here are three reasons why people should embrace risk if they want to be successful:

Risk Equals Opportunity: The more risks you take, the more opportunities you’ll find. Those interested in the status quo will likely remain within the status quo, staying stagnant in their jobs and in their lives. Those willing to do the work and take chances will likely climb the ladder faster and discover new opportunities along the way.

Risk Equals Learning: People open to taking risks often try new things, learn new skills, and gain more knowledge, which in turn increases their confidence and broadens their range of skills and abilities.

Risk Equals Resilience: Many businesses fail, but even when a venture doesn’t work, most entrepreneurs don’t give up. They dust themselves off, learn from their mistakes, and try again. But failure, according to Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, isn’t bad; she says it’s “not the opposite of success but a stepping stone to success.”

Those who take risks learn to embrace failure and use it as a starting point for their next success. Whether you’re an employee starting out or somewhere in the middle of your career, if you want to be successful in business and in life, try taking a few risks.

 

Lisa Day | Contributing Writer