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5 tips for tackling those difficult conversations


Having ‘difficult’ conversations with your team is inevitable when you’re a manager. At some point, an issue will arise and will have to be addressed. It may be a project that has gone wrong, sub-par performance of an employee or a meeting that has been mishandled.

Although it can be tempting to sweep these things under the carpet, if bad situations are allowed to   to escalate, minor problems can very easily become major.

Here are 5 tips to help you tackle those difficult/awkward conversations with confidence.

1. Keep it private

Show respect to employees and it will be reciprocated. Choose a private place to talk things through, it isn’t fair to deliver difficult feedback in the hearing of other colleagues.

2. Get to the point

Beating around the bush will only draw out the uncomfortableness. After initial pleasantries have been exchanged, air your concerns and get to the point quickly, as to communicate the seriousness of the issue.

3. Listen

It’s important as a manager to listen to (though not necessarily agree with) employees. This shows them that you respect them as a fellow colleague, and is likely to encourage them to be more open about their issues. If there are any underlying issues you are not aware of, listening will help you identify them.

4. Set goals and be positive

Work with the employee to set goals that will resolve the issues in the workplace. Employees are a lot more likely to collaborate when they believe they have a part to play in the solution, rather than making them out as a target or cause of the problem. Ensure employees are clear about what they need to do.

WORKPLACEone’s Personal Development module is perfect for this, allowing goals to be set easily. Reviews can also be scheduled to ensure progress is tracked and goals are ultimately achieved.

5. Stay calm

It isn’t always easy to listen to colleagues, especially if their actions betray their words. Instead of losing your temper, stay as calm as possible. Arguments rarely resolve issues in the long term.

If you’d like help with difficult conversations, you can contact our expert team of HR consultants.

To learn more about what our HR consultants can offer your organisation, click here.