Navigating the excruciating conversation

by on June 4, 2012 · 6 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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There’s no way to avoid it: Sooner or later, every manager has to deal with difficult conversations.

There’s the employee who, despite your best efforts, just isn’t getting it; the college intern who doesn’t understand that his internship is a job which actually requires him to show up. And of course, there’s that very difficult conversation with someone who’s about to be terminated.

Rough discussions all; but not what you’d call excruciating – the excruciatingly difficult conversation is in a whole other class.

Getting personal
They usually occur when elements from the personal realm – bad hygiene; inappropriate or just plain awful clothing; a filthy, disgusting work space – enter the professional arena.

Nobody wants to have these conversations. They’re embarrassing for everyone involved – the employee in the hot seat, the manager who has to speak with him or her, even the co-workers who felt compelled to report the problem.

But how do you negotiate such delicate matters?

You don’t want to be harsh, but you need to meet the problem head on. You must avoid being judgmental, but still let the employee know that the situation must change. You shouldn’t pass the buck; but you also must recognize the point at which the excruciating conversation should pass out of your hands and into those of HR or even Legal.

As in so many things, when dealing with an excruciatingly difficult conversation, preparation is critical.

Check out the Compliance & Management Rapid Learning Center FREE. Get instant access to a collection of 6- to 10-minute modules perfect for training supervisors and managers throughout your organization.

RLI’s solution is called the E.A.S.I.E.R. method. It’s designed to give you a comprehensive road map for navigating these painful exchanges.

E.A.S.I.E.R. stands for:

Educate yourself. Verify that the complaint is valid.
Admit to the employee that the conversation makes you really uncomfortable.
Start Fast. Don’t beat around the bush with the employee. Get to the point.
Inquire about the reason for the problem. It could be something you never suspected.
Explore possible solutions and work with the employee to resolve the issue.
Recap. Make sure that the employee understands his responsibility to solve the problem going forward.

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6 Comments on This Post

  1. guest
    June 4, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    I disagree to admitting to an employee that the conversation makes you really uncomfortable. As managers and supervisors employees look to us for leadership, competence, and confidence. Beginning an already difficult conversation with “I’m uncomfortable having this conversation” is going to weaken the manager or supervisor in their employee’s eyes and more likley than not put the employee more on the defense then they may be.

  2. guest
    June 4, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    I disagree to admitting to an employee that the conversation makes you really uncomfortable. As managers and supervisors employees look to us for leadership, competence, and confidence. Beginning an already difficult conversation with “I’m uncomfortable having this conversation” is going to weaken the manager or supervisor in their employee’s eyes and more likley than not put the employee more on the defense then they may be.

  3. June 10, 2012 - 1:25 am

    Good advice. Works for me every time!

  4. June 10, 2012 - 1:25 am

    Good advice. Works for me every time!

  5. June 10, 2012 - 1:29 am

    Good advice. Works for me most of the time! EASIER method works.

  6. June 10, 2012 - 1:29 am

    Good advice. Works for me most of the time! EASIER method works.

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