How to Have a Difficult Conversation With an Employee

As a South Florida staffing agency, we understand that no manager likes having difficult conversations with their employees, whether it’s about an issue with attire or a performance problem. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and you’re never quite sure how the employee in question will take it. To help you handle these sticky situations, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Deal with the issue as quickly as possible.

It’s easy to procrastinate those tasks you don’t want to undertake. But if you don’t deal with the issue ASAP, the problem could escalate and have a negative impact on other employees, or worse, your customers.

Keep emotions in check.

With that said, if an employee has done something to really upset you, don’t confront them in a highly emotional state. Wait until you can compose yourself and confront them calmly and professionally.

Set the tone.

At this point, the employee is probably feeling stressed out because they’ve been called into your office. So don’t beat around the bush; just get to the point. Let your employee know that there are some issues that need to be confronted. If it makes it easier, also let your employee know that the conversation is difficult for you, as well.

Be specific.

Giving specific examples will lend what you’re saying more credibility. For example, if tardiness is an issue, the employee might dispute what you say if you simply state: “you’re late a lot.” Instead, be more specific, such as, “you’ve been late three days this week by at least 20 minutes.”

But don’t stop there. Explain the consequences of the employee’s bad behavior – “we’re unable to start our morning meeting until you arrive, which throws everyone’s schedule off.”

Take responsibility for the situation.

In many cases, an issue with an employee has come to a manager’s attention because other employees complained. But no matter how tempting it can be, don’t try to blame those employees by saying “Several of your co-workers have complained about your…” It will only serve to embarrass the offending employee. Get to the heart of the matter – “We need to talk about your…” – and take responsibility.

Listen to their side.

Be prepared to listen to their point of view. You never know; their bad behavior could be caused by something completely unrelated to work, such as a sick child or spouse.

Reach an agreement.

Whatever their explanation, work on reaching an agreement on what the employee will do to change their behavior. If the issue persists, then follow up and remind the employee of what you agreed upon. Disciplinary action or termination may be required if the employee doesn’t seem to be working to resolve the problem.

If you’ve had to terminate an employee recently and are searching for a skilled and dependable employee to replace them, Future Force can help. As one of South Florida’s leading staffing agencies, we’ve been locating top talent for employers since 1992. Let us help you. Contact us today to learn more.

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