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

How To Hire Right

Beyond having the right product and service, another vital aspect every organization should look into is “Finding the Right Fit”. Hiring someone whose character the business must have in order to succeed. Failure to do so will cost your company time, dollars, and effort. However, given proper tools, training and direction your new recruit will  become your premium capital investment. So, don’t take recruitment for granted, remember, your employees are your most valuable asset. Now, the challenge is how to hire right, the first time. Although the world has become extremely technologically-driven, it still needs Human Resources to be successful.

Let me share a three-part checklist that will surely yield better results in getting the perfect match…

Establish the need to hire.
A proactive and strategic human resources always refer to the plantilla to ensure that the company has the right quantity and quality of people  able  to keep the business running. In cases of manpower requisition, HR in collaboration with the Hiring Manager must be able to answer the two (2) key questions before initiating  recruitment:

  1. Is the vacancy created due to internal movement such as resignation,  maternity/paternity leave, demotion or de-hiring?
  2. If none of the foregoing was the reason, is it an additional headcount due to business expansion?

Remember, hiring is an overhead expense. Thus, ROI shall always be taken into consideration. Also, it is a must to review your existing workforce, you might have a potentially qualified internal candidate who has the eligibility or whose promotion is long overdue. Review employee profile/records or announce/advertise vacancies via intranet or bulletin boards. You can also check if there is an underutilized personnel that can occupy/fill up open position.  If and only if you have fully exhausted your internal resources that you should proceed on searching for external candidate.

The bottom line here is this: Hiring Manager with the assistance of HR may opt promote or distribute duties within the department/organization. It saves the company time and money at the same time increase motivation of employees.

 

Conduct Job Analysis.
Envisioning what you want or defining labour needs in clearer  terms. This tool is not only used in recruitment, it could also be a realistic basis for   training, wage and salary administration, job re-engineering, health and safety.

The output of job analysis is job description (JD). A well-crafted JD shall be the foundation in designing a competency-based recruitment strategy. It clearly defines major scope and responsibilities of the job as well as relationship with other jobs/departments. It also emphasizes working conditions and hazards, most especially for high-risk profession. A ideal JD is always up to date, with specific title and detailed duties. It has the reporting structure, challenges and opportunities, qualification, knowledge, education and personal characteristics.

From JD, HR can develop job specifications, this is statement of minimum acceptable qualities of a position. The success measure is always the value of the person hired to execute the tasks.

 

Map out your Recruitment Platform.
The goal is to have a systematic hiring process that will aid HR and Hiring Managers in attracting the best candidates for the job. The bottom line is: the more qualified candidates you have, the more likely you are to locate the most suitable person to fill the job. Utilizing the details in the JD, HR together with Hiring Manager and approval of top management,  create job specifications, salary range and timeline. To increase employee morale, it is necessary to advertise the position internally prior to exploring other sources.  Internal placement is a great way of motivating employees to perform at their fullest potential. If no one will be selected from within the organization, reasons must be clearly explained and communicated or it might lead to grievance. If lack of skills is the cause, HR may recommend training so that person will be prepared should the same position arise again. One of the advantages of internal placement is culture fit, which is the number one consideration in hiring. A candidate can be fully qualified based on KSA but the risk is how the person can mesh well with the culture. When an internal candidate is offered the new position, transition timeline with the current supervisor should be planned.

HR can now proceed to external sourcing when no one qualifies. The commonly employed sources are social media (LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook), on-line jobsites, newspaper ads, job fairs, and campus recruitment (colleges/universities). Conducting career talks to top graduating students is another strategy to invite top graduates to join the company. For high-profile positions, HR are trained on how to court passive candidates or they can use manpower agencies or head hunters who are likewise equipped with tools and expertise in recruiting.

 

Effective and Efficient Screening and Selection.Due to scarcity of jobs, there is an influx of active candidates. To simplify HR’s job, setting of criteria/parameters and preparing structured interview questions, will help in separating the desirable to average. It is like designing a Hiring Scorecard.  In constructing interview questions, equal employment opportunity and conformance with legal and labour standards should be taken into consideration.

HR performs the following in screening and selecting candidates:

  1. Resume paper screening enables HR to easily identify which one to process by matching information to the job checklist.
  2. Phone interviews will be conducted for candidates who meets at least 3 out of the 5 items. Only those whose rating is 8 and above in the phone screening will be invited for face-to-face in-depth interview. Again, based on point system, HR should present the short-listed candidates to Hiring Manager who will make an initial impression.
  3. Don’t forget to verify sterling credentials of at least top 3 candidates through professional reference checking. Some industries even require credit history such as banks, insurance companies and the like. When the report is ready together with all the other documents used in screening, HR will present again to Hiring Manager for the final decision. The closing will happen at job offer. For some companies, a non-compete and confidentiality of information agreements are presented during the job offer. These documents are needed to protect the company’s products, clients and trade secrets.

On Boarding is Important.
Make sure candidates are well inducted about the company’s mission, vision and core values before endorsing him/her to his/her assigned department. Be sure to provide the initial tools he/she needs to become successful on the job. It is ideal if a company can invest in a “First 100 Days Development Plan”. Keeping in mind that workforce must embrace the company’s philosophy and business principles, because this is when employee engagement begins.

 

In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment, it should always be tailored and catered to the type of business. As a tip, don’t embark on a search without answering 5W’s and 1 H. Why/Who/When/Where to get the best talents and what recruitment techniques are helpful and how effective is the hiring process. Stop hiring the wrong people, it is possible!

Employee Selection Strategies

Employee selection is one of HR’s strategic roles and key performance indicators. It involves manpower forecasting, staffing and retention activities. By planning, recruiters collaborate with hiring managers in predicting and anticipating the demand for personnel. This is a pro-active approach to ensure there is adequate supply of highly qualified candidates suited to fill in current and future vacancies. Human resources and requisitioning department heads identify and justify the need for new hires. Consequently they define job specifics, set parameters and allocate budget. As an executory body, HR is well-trained in this field. To achieve their goals they employ appropriate selection systems as well as standardized policies and procedures that are necessary for delivering the best prospects.

Below are some employee selection strategies, most admired firms adapt to ensure success in hiring the best candidates.

  • By putting in place effective recruitment initiatives, organizations will be able to serve job openings at any given time. Sources and availabilities of talents possessing the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) necessary to perform the most critical and technical tasks, will vary depending on Top Management’s support and how a particular company adjusts to changing technological trends. Great hiring entails significant operating expenses and for some, sizeable investments in infrastructure.
  • Create an employment brand. Do you provide competitive compensation and benefits package? Is your company in the top echelon of corporations? Have you been operating for over a decade or more? Do you take care of your employees? These are just some of the many questions applicants consider before joining any organization. If your answer is yes to all questions then there’s a big probability that you will be able to find the perfect match. Make your company the employer of choice. This way, you will be able to attract topnotch individuals to come and join your firm. As a result, you will have a pool of well-qualified candidates to select from as well as more negotiating power to ensure that you’ll take in the cream of the crop that best suits your budget.
  • In Canada, the job market is very competitive as it has a huge blend of talents, coming from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and skills sets. Therefore, HR must have more options expanding and improving its selection schemes, so that it can provide better impact to the organization. Efforts must be made to exhaust and optimize all recruitment channels and sources by deploying computerized screening and electronic database management systems like Taleo.
  • A candidate may have all the skills and experience required to be successful on the job, but a recruiter must confirm that they have the proper references. Conducting a comprehensive background investigation validates the credibility of a recruit. Through this process, a company can certify their credentials. Resumes are unfortunately often manipulated. As a consequence, feedback from employers matters more and more. Be vigilant in doing reference checks, it should be a direct supervisor of the candidate that you are speaking to since colleagues can be friends with an overly emotional attachment to the prospect.
  • In some countries, checking the candidate’s background is not limited to just authenticating work performance, attitude or contributions with past employers. It extends to knowing how the person relates to the community. This may require them to undergo drug testing, or other tests to comprehensively assess their character before placement.
  • Do not limit yourself to interviewing candidates using only the “generic” interview questions. Take time to develop a unique and well-structured one to assess competencies to a greater extent. Most applicants, because they’ve been applying to so many jobs, are used to answering the standard questions, and many simply say the answers hiring managers want to hear. To really target the person that’s right for the job, perform an extensive screening. For example, if you are looking for a sales personnel, give him actual sales simulation exercises, and see how he’ll be able to use his expertise in actual scenarios.

The list could go on and on, but one thing is for sure, there is always risk attached to hiring. Even if you have selected “the best of the best”, organizational fitness still matters. Install an on-the-job trial to be sure that you’ll only choose the right fit before fully offering the job. If your first choice fails, try the second one. That’s why it’s always necessary to have a backup. Try to have at least three shortlisted candidates on your list for any position.
Adapting best practices in your process will surely influence the company’s bottom line in a meaningful way. Remember, through effective selection, organizations will have repeat customers, increased revenue, a more engaged workforce, sustained job performance, lower turnover, and much more.

 

M G Beltran | DBPC Blog