If you are in a management position of any kind, chances are you’ll have to have a difficult conversation with an employee at some point in time. Issues may include:
- Being late
- Drug or alcohol use
- Flirtatious behavior
- Having an inter-office affair
- Inappropriate attire
- Leaving dirty dishes in the sink
- A messy desk
- Personal hygiene
- Excessive cell phone use
- Vulgar language
So as uncomfortable as those situations are, we’ve put together some general guidelines. As always, it’s best to consult a professional before jumping into conversations of this nature, but these six steps will help you get started.
- Seek permission to give feedback. Open the two-way dialogue as soon as you start the conversation in order to keep things as honest as possible.
- Keep cool, calm and collected. Criticizing someone or raising your voice is a quick path to escalating a situation. Instead, use a calm, conversational tone and try to leave your emotions out of it.
- Focus on the problem. It’s not a good idea to make any references to others who may have experienced a similar problem with this employee. He or she will immediately feel backed into a corner and react defensively, so keep the conversation to the topic at hand.
- Keep the discussion uncomplicated and simple. Similar to Step 3, keep your conversation simple, direct and on topic — don’t sidetrack the real issue at hand with any irrelevant discussion.
- Reach an agreement. Both parties need to come to an agreement about what needs to be done and on what timeline. Schedule a future date to re-evaluate the employee’s attitude/behavior.
- Follow-up. The more positive feedback you provide, the more likely someone is to change their attitude and/or behavior. And let them know that other employees have noticed a difference as well.
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.