Business Insights

Business Insights

Having Tough Conversations In The Workplace

Are you having enough tough conversations?

In personal and professional life how often do we simply "let things slide... this time"? Potentially because it is easier, we have too many other priorities, we are scared of conflict, don't want to hurt the other person or we kid ourselves that it is not such a big issue, really.

The problem is that this apathy can allow insignificant issues to fester and become real problems; problems that affect individual and team performance, and ultimately undermine your role as a leader.

Having tough conversations can be hard but how you approach it can make all the difference.

1. The starting point is your intention. Ask yourself, is addressing this issue in the best interest of the team, the organisation, the individual? If it is, then be brave and have the conversation, regardless of the potential ramifications.

2. Manage your emotions first. If something has happened that makes you react emotionally, make sure that you take your time before delivering feedback, so that you are ready to have a constructive conversation. Consider this...just because something is done does not mean that it is done to you.

3. Be sure to challenge the behaviour (not the person). Whatever the behaviour of your employee, it is not a personal attack on you or your business. So, don’t make it personal and simply address the behaviour that you want to change. Let them know what is working well, what they are good at, what you value in them. Then address the issue - make sure you can evidence it with examples.

4. Make sure the challenge is understood. Ask for feedback from the person on the behaviour being challenged. It is an opportunity for a two-way conversation. After all it is not just about telling the person what they have not done well; it is about enabling them to change in order to be better at what they do. It is essential that the message you are conveying has not just been heard but has been understood.

5. Don't allow the other person to deflect the challenge. Often, when confronted with a behaviour issue we will try to turn the tables on someone or something else. Stay on point. Don't get drawn into any other discussion. Bring the person back to the issue in question.

6. Plan a path forward with the person. Get them to come up with thoughts for making the change and suggest ways in which you could support this. Agree what the next steps and timings will be. Stick to these and be consistent in re-enforcing the change that you want to see.

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Tamsin Fielden

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