A world without consequences would be an easier place to be live. For starters, we would be able to finally say everything we’ve always wanted to say:
“I actually don’t find your jokes funny”, “You have bad body odor” “I hate when you speak up in meetings with nothing to actually contribute” “You may think it is fun banter but I don’t think your wife would think so”.
But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where we must form an area of expertise just to assist with workplace communication as they often turn into conflicts and disputes.
Yes, I am talking about Human Resources.
As a seasoned HR Professional to many different industries, I can tell you that the biggest factor that underlies most troubles with communication is FEAR. We need to say something, but we begin to imagine hearing someone say those words to us and how offended we would feel – and we stop ourselves. These conversations are tough but often necessary.
Here are three ways you can make these tough conversations easier, for both you and the recipient.
What Every Employer Needs to Master to Have Tough Conversations
- Get to the point of the conversation
Your work world is outcome based, and so should your conversations. Do not waste time or energy tip toeing around the point. Do not sugar coat what that is. Get right to it:
‘Tell me about the conflict between you and Bob on Friday?’
‘I am here to talk to you about expected hygiene in the workplace.’
‘I am here to discuss etiquette in a meeting.’
Ask open-ended questions to gather information and then sit back and gather the facts and feelings as they respond.
- You need to fix the feelings before you fix the problem.
I speak about this one a lot with clients as it is often the root cause of an escalated conversation. I even wrote about it in my Termination Tips (link) You can prep for many reactions from an employee but you need them to get all of their feelings OUT before you can FIX the problem.. When you ask an open-ended question, you will get a mixture of fact and feeling as a response. Practice Empathic listening by being quiet and having an open mindset to what they have to say. Do not interrupt when the employee is speaking. You will learn a lot about the situation and it may very well change your opinion on what exactly the solution is. Also, understand that no outcome will be achieved if you are thinking with pre-judgement. Be present, kind, and open to the conversation.
- Know your Rights as an Employer
As you get to the Facts, ensure that you know what you have a right to expect from an employee. Read through Human Rights legislation prior to a conversation to make sure that you protect both the organization and the employee. Depending on the situation, you may need assistance from a professional for an investigation, or perhaps an accommodation of duties, etc.
The majority of any good conversation begins with the work you do to prepare. Take the time and use the above as a guideline to get you and your employee back on the path to success.