Having an honest conversation is part and parcel of a manager’s role. Some managers jump in feet first whilst others opt for a strategy of avoidance, which may be due to embarrassment or fear. Often, the issues line managers need to talk about are important and linked to the organisations performance, so it’s critical to accept responsibility and vital to get the conversation right.
The topics of conversation can be wide ranging; from delivering bad news about redundancy to raising the issue of an individual’s personal hygiene. In many instances, the act of addressing the issue can help to turn the situation into a positive one. For instance, giving critical feedback may give an employee the opportunity to improve performance, which may prevent him or her from facing disciplinary action.
Delaying a difficult conversation is ill advised, why? Because waiting for a suitable opportunity to have a difficult conversation inevitably results in the issue never being dealt with, it can lead to further complications or matters becoming increasingly worse, temporary issues are likely to reoccur and, a problem will not normally resolve itself.
So, let us consider what you can do
Conquer your fears. Let’s be honest, nobody likes conflict and it’s normal (and ok) to be fearful.
Step into their shoes, what factors may be driving the person to act, say or do the things they are doing?
Do your homework and prepare, the discussion will go better. Make sure to stick to the facts and write them down beforehand, never be judgemental.
Be positive and set a positive tone going into the meeting. Before diving directly into the heart of the conversation, precede the core issue with phrases, such as ‘thank for taking the time to meet with me’ or ‘I’ve been wanting to talk with you for some time now.’
Leave your emotions at the door to help avoid the meeting becoming emotionally charged. Don’t forget, keep it factual.
Find the right setting and set the right tone. A quiet meeting room or office is fine but in some instances a walking meeting may be a good alternative. They are less confrontational and can help an honest conversation flow freely. Also consider when the person will be most receptive.
What about a witness? It’s not a legal requirement but in most instances, it is good to have one present, especially if the issue relates to a policy breach, behavioural problems or anything which may ultimately lead to a disciplinary sanction.
Be consistent and ensure you hold all employees accountable for the same performance expectations.
Focus on future goals is one way to frame a difficult conversation and should be something both parties want to work towards and are committed to accomplishing.
Keep it confidential!
When all else fails and the employee becomes rude or aggressive it may be time to end the meeting. Try to stay, let the employee vent, stay focused on the issue and reason for the meeting.
HOW CAN REDSTART UK HELP?
We have created a highly interactive and enriching 1 day Honest Conversations Workshop which aims to strengthen your relationships, build confidence and respect when handling sensitive issues and will enhance your performance in understanding your own needs and those of others.
This fun and engaging session is suitable for Directors, Managers, Supervisors and anyone who would like to raise their awareness and confidence and feel empowered to engage in difficult or deeper conversations.
The workshop can be delivered in-house or you can book to attend one of our open session. Further details are available on our Honest Conversations page.
If you are concerned or have any questions about an honest conversation or any other HR related matter please contact me, Natalie Perks, at email@example.com or call 01463 262 428