This is one of the topics I most often get asked about.
I see business owners, leaders and managers struggling with this one all the time: tackling difficult conversations with staff. Usually this comes after a period of avoiding that difficult conversation which is what we’re going to spend a bit of time today looking at in depth.
If you’re anything like me, conflict is not something you run headfirst toward with arms wide open to embrace - that’s exactly why tough conversations are hard. That dreaded feeling in the pit of your stomach, sleepless nights, anxiety, avoiding the staff member and putting off THAT conversation, if not avoiding it entirely.
You are absolutely not alone.
Even with my experience, I don’t like having these conversations either. I never have, and while I’m definitely better at tackling these tough conversations, it doesn’t mean I like it any more than I did before - I just developed the skills to get better at having them.
These skills are essential for all business owners, leaders and managers to have in their toolkit because you work with people - and tough conversations are part of the package. There will inevitably be issues that arise, large and small, that will have you groaning inwardly and wishing you had someone else who could take care of it for you. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets and the more damage it could be causing your business in productivity, staff morale, and sustainability.
So what exactly could we consider a tough conversation in the workplace?
They could look like any or all of the following:
These are just some of the big picture areas where we could find ourselves needing to tackle a tough conversation - and you might have identified other areas already too.
While it’s not always easy, when you’re in the business of being in business, the bottom line is these tough conversations need to be had. More often than not, you will be the person who has to have them.
What happens when you put off, or completely avoid, having these conversations?
So, what do you do?
I don’t encourage avoiding the conversation. As we’ve spoken about, the longer you leave it unaddressed, the harder it will become and the more time you end up feeling uncomfortable, anxious, frustrated. We want to minimise your discomfort, that of your staff AND ensure that your business is able to keep ticking along without major internal disruptions.
Here are my top tips for tackling that difficult conversation.
This is where you need to have the courage to lead.
This is not a conversation to have in the kitchen whilst making a coffee.
What is the outcome you’re looking for at the end of this conversation?
Seek first to understand when you broach the issue with them.
For more insight into how to have these difficult conversations, download your free copy of my tackling tough conversations guide - www.peoplepoweredbusiness.com.au/tough