Steps to giving feedback in a tough HR situation

August 20, 2010

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
  • Discrimination
  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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