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How to Have Difficult Conversations at Work

How do you get employees to perform better? How do you communicate effectively with them, and how can you overcome your conflict aversion when a difficult conversation is required? These are all questions that every business leader faces at one point or another. It’s not always easy to make sure everyone is on the same page, and sometimes things need to be said that may cause some discomfort. But it’s essential! In this blog post, we will discuss how leaders can manage these conversations more effectively.

Performance Feedback Matters

Have you ever felt surprised by criticism about your performance? Is the time your boss gets on you about something the first time you have heard about a performance problem? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you understand the importance of ongoing performance feedback. Consistent feedback is one of the most effective performance management tools.

The idea that you can’t improve a problem unless you know about it sounds pretty straightforward. Still, many people don’t take advantage of this opportunity to help their employees grow and develop. Sometimes leaders think that the performance issue will just improve. Others worry about a potential conflict that could arise with the employee when giving them feedback, so they don’t provide it in the first place.

Performance feedback conversations are crucial for your business. If you are a leader that has been struggling with providing regular feedback or know someone who is, we will cover critical tips for how you can do it constructively.

How to Have a Difficult Conversation

There are a few key points to cover when providing constructive feedback. Here they are:

Conflict averse tendencies: Acknowledge your feelings, gather all of the information on both sides so you can make an objective decision, be open-minded about other people’s opinions even if they differ from yours.

Awareness: Make sure you understand the situation going in. Provide the employee with your perspective based on what you have seen and heard. Be open to feedback from the other person.

Clarity: Give precise observations, explanations, and examples of where they may be off track or not meeting expectations.

Empathy: show that you understand the person’s perspective and point of view, even if it is different from yours. Acknowledge their feelings and beliefs about the situation.

Constructive Feedback: Provide feedback on how they can improve their performance. Show the employee the right way and explain the benefits of following that process.

Confirm: Once you have reviewed the entire situation and solution, confirm the conversation with the employee. Ensure they understand it, the changes they need to make, and why they’re essential.

Follow Up and Accountability

Once you have had the conversation, it is essential to follow up. Check in on their progress, answer any questions, and address any challenges.

Ask if the employee needs any more help or assistance. Is there anything else you can do to assist them? If they said “Yes,” it is your responsibility as a leader to work with them and ensure their performance improves. If they said “No,” then follow up in 30 days with another conversation for accountability.

Holding people accountable is an integral part of leading them forward. When everyone performs at their highest level, the entire team succeeds, so it’s imperative to help those who struggle to adjust and do better regularly. If you can follow these steps, you will be able to hold people accountable and communicate effectively without getting in anyone’s face or being too intimidating:

If you’d like to learn how to have more effective performance conversations, schedule a Discovery Call.