Tips for more productive workplace conversations
Now that we've got the do's and the dont's out of the way, here are a few extra tips to make those difficult workplace conversations a little easier.
1. Create an open environment
When you sit down for a difficult conversation with one of your workers, try to create an environment where both parties can be open and honest without any repercussions.
When one or both parties enter the conversation with a negative attitude, it can hinder your chances of reaching a positive outcome. Begin the conversation with positive intentions, whether that means coming up with an action plan or resolving a conflict.
2. Focus on facts, not emotions
In the do's list above, we mentioned that you should always think about what you say before you say it. Planning the specific things that you want to bring up will always make the talk go easier, even if you don't always get the answers you'd hope for.
When planning what to say, be sure to build your points around hard facts. Without them, you risk allowing the conversation to go off on a tangent rather than staying grounded and focused on the problems at hand.
Think about the following:
- What occurred to warrant this conversation in the first place?
- What impact did that incident have?
- What behaviours need to be changed to rectify the problem?
- What will happen if nothing changes?
Having the answers to these questions will allow you to focus on objective facts rather than your subjective feelings about the situation.
3. End the conversation with a solution
At the end of any difficult workplace conversation, you should always aim to establish some positive 'next steps' so that you and your employee are both clear about what's expected.
You may already have some actions in mind going into the meeting, but it is always important to discuss these and come to a mutual agreement if possible.
When conducting difficult conversations with employees, thoughtful managers tend to get better results than vindictive bosses who just want to deliver a telling-off. When your staff see you implementing meaningful changes, they'll be more likely to follow your good example.
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