Wood Words

Tips for Handling Difficult Employee Conversations

“I have to demote you.”

“Your co-workers find you difficult to work with.”

“You didn’t get that raise you asked for.”

As a manager, you’re paid to solve problems. Often, that means you’re forced into the uncomfortable position of having to initiate tough conversations with employees.

It can be tempting to delay these talks, especially if the subject is sensitive or the worker is likely to get defensive. But in most cases, procrastination only makes problems worse! So if you’re dreading an employee conversation, use these tips from Wood Personnel to handle the situation directly and professionally – and get the results you want:

  • Don’t wait for the “perfect time.” It won’t come. Use email or voicemail to request a meeting as soon as possible, tactfully outlining the purpose of your conversation. Choose a neutral location where you’ll have some privacy.
  • Get down to business. If the subject is serious, small talk isn’t necessary and only delays the inevitable. Don’t beat around the bush – move right into the heart of your conversation.
  • Be direct. If your meeting is about a warning or disciplinary action, make your concerns clear from the outset. Then, provide context and evidence to support your claims. Your employee should leave the meeting knowing what the problem is, what he has to do to solve it, and what the consequences will be if he doesn’t. Follow your company’s policies for documenting the conversation, including obtaining signatures if warranted.
  • Keep emotions in check. Don’t let frustration or anger get the best of you. Instead of reacting emotionally, shift your focus to solving the problem at hand. If your employee loses his cool, explain that now is the time to work on a solution – not vent.
  • Be careful not to make assumptions. Allow your employee to present his side of the story and ask questions. By listening to what he has to say – and avoiding jumping to conclusions – you increase the likelihood that he’ll buy into the solution you develop.

These tips will work in a wide range of situations, but employee terminations are unique. If you’re faced with the prospect of firing an employee, give the termination due consideration and handle the termination the right way to protect your company.

What’s the most difficult conversation you’ve had with an employee? How did you handle it? We’d love to know. Tell us your story below!

And if you need advice on employment issues or could use an extra hand getting your work done, our Hendersonville employment agency is ready to help. Contact us today.