Crucial conversation at work

Crucial Conversations at Work

April 16, 2018 | By Charlene Woodbine, Vitil

As a Perth based business owner, have you been faced with having a difficult conversation with an employee in relation to their performance, personal attributes or attitude at work?

It is often tempting to avoid these uncomfortable conversations altogether hoping that the issues will simply disappear on their own. However, experience tells Vitil's HR Consultants, that this is rarely the case.

In fact the opposite is true.

Avoidance can lead to an escalation in the issues, a drop in morale in your workplace as your employees silently watch to see how you respond to a situation. A lack of response by a manager, supervisor or HR professional, can ultimately result in a disillusioned workforce and affect productivity in the workplace.

Our advice to Perth's small business owners is to foster open, honest and transparent communication by creating an environment where matters can be discussed sensitively with the primary goal of supporting an employee to improve.

Here are our top tips for delivering a crucial conversation:

1. Planning

Ensure that you are clear about the matters you wish to address with your employee. It helps to jot down some key matters that you may have observed prior to the meeting. Ensure that you focus on the behaviour and avoid comments that could be construed as personal attacks. It is also very important to ensure that you focus on the facts rather than making assumptions.

For example: "You're lazy...you take so long to get your job done" would be considered a personal attack and an assumption was made that the employee was lazy. The likely response from an employee will either be aggression, or they will shut down. Either way, you are not likely to have a positive conversation with the employee. Instead try: "I have observed that you took some time to get that job done. Was there something affecting your productivity?" This invites the employee to engage in the conversation with you.

2. Delivery

It is important that you choose a venue and time that offers privacy to the employee and where disruptions can be minimised. It is never ok to give an employee feedback (particularly negative feedback), in the presence of their colleagues!

Start your conversation with positive feedback. Employees need to receive feedback to ensure that they are on the right track. It validates their effort and is likely to improve their productivity as a result.

Summarise the key areas that you would like to discuss. Again, focus on the behaviour and avoid making personal assumptions or forming conclusions. You may have a view but it is very important to ensure that you are open to having your view changed if the employee offers a valid explanation.

Despite your best efforts to remain calm, you may be faced with an aggressive employee. It is Vitil's Human Resources Advisors advice, to not engage in a verbal altercation with the employee. Avoid making comments that you may later regret or that may jeopardise your legal position should the matter progress to a formal claim. If things get heated, it is better to call for a break or adjourn the meeting, which will give both parties an opportunity to reconsider and seek advice if required.

Finally, the delivery of the feedback should also include a conversation about how the employer can assist the employee to make improvements.

3. Follow Up

It is strongly recommended to touch base with the employee to ensure that the agreed strategies and outcomes are progressing well.

It is often easy to forget this step but follow up is very important. It allows you to provide interim feedback to the employee about their progress and ensures that you are not allowing further behaviours to continue without addressing.

If you are facing a situation of having a difficult conversation with an employee, we would strongly encourage you to seek advice. Vitil HR's professionals are happy to provide over the phone advice in relation to more specific situations about delivering feedback.

Vitil HR Consultants

Vitil's Consultants are HR professionals in Australia who have experience of a vast array of different situations. We who offer flexible, reliable and affordable outsourced human resource support, where your team is the key focus. By outsourcing HR to a Perth based expert in HR, our experienced recruitment management professionals can objectively assess your environment and your human capital needs, to further develop your business performance.

Contact us to discuss tailoring HR solutions to your business needs.

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