Tackling Tough Conversations with Your Team

Tackling Tough Conversations with Your Team

Tackling tough conversations with your team can be challenging. You might not know how to approach the situation, what to say, or how to say it.

Fortunately, having a guide to tackling tough conversations with your team can make the process easier. These guidelines can help.

Prepare for the Conversation

Gather the facts relevant to the conversation. For instance, if a team member consistently is late to work, locate a record of attendance and a copy of the attendance policy. Proper preparation helps guide the conversation and provide support for your statements.

Meet in Your Office

Invite your team member to your office for the conversation. You need a quiet, private location to talk.

If the conversation involves a policy violation, employee discipline, or another serious matter, ask an HR team member to be present. Brief them ahead of time so they understand the situation and their role in the discussion.

For instance, you might ask the HR representative to observe and take notes. Or, they might serve as a mediator to help the conversation stay on track.

Keep a Positive Tone

Emphasize positivity during the conversation. Help your team member relax and focus on the discussion to help resolve the issue.

For instance, ask your team member whether they have time to discuss some feedback. Then, clearly and directly share your concerns. Include the facts and data you gathered to support your point.

Focus on the behavior rather than the team member. Your goal is to collaborate to solve the problem.

Prioritize Professionalism

Remain objective throughout the conversation with your team member. Model the language and behavior you would like to see.

Be aware that your team member might become emotional when listening to your feedback. If they do, remain calm as you navigate forward.

Create an Improvement Plan

Work with your team member to develop an action plan for improvement. Include specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) goals to resolve the issue. Ensure your team member understands what they must accomplish and how to do so within the timeframe.

Follow Up

Schedule a time to follow up with your team member. Refer to the action plan to measure their improvement.

If your team member reached their goals, recognize their efforts. Otherwise, discuss methods for improvement and a time to follow up. Repeat the process as needed.

Maintain Confidentiality

Keep the team member conversation confidential. Only the team member, the HR representative, and other relevant stakeholders must know what was said and why. Maintaining confidentiality supports a positive work environment, trust, and team morale.

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