Skip to main content

Awkward Conversations

Many managers, including me, procrastinate when faced with a difficult conversation. The end result is that it becomes even more awkward, the longer it is left.
I have found that long delays have all sorts of potential results, eg:
  • the situation improves on the surface, so the impact of the conversation is lost, and the learning opportunity is gone or
  • the frustration builds and the problem grows and the situation spirals out of control and causes real problems
While allowing a problem to resolve naturally is sometimes a good thing, if it hides an underlying weakness or prejudice or poor process, it will just re-occur and might be seriously damaging.

So how do you manage those difficult conversations?

  • Appoint a facilitator (line manager or HR official)
  • Create a safe, quiet space for the meeting.
  • Agree whether it is going to be formally documented or not
  • Agree on a preferred outcome before you start the conversation, even if it is just to have another meeting
  • Set firm ground rules that everybody agrees with before you start eg no swearing, no shouting, no "you always", or whatever is appropriate in your environment
  • Ensure the facilitator has the authority to ensure the rules don't get broken
  • The facilitator needs to be comfortable asking tough questions, while remaining objective
  • Steer the conversation toward facts, not opinions and assumptions
  • Allow a definite time for the conversation, rather than going with the "we are not leaving this room until the matter is resolved" approach
  • Conclude the meeting with a clear action plan that is deadline driven.
  • Follow up

Awkward conversations do occur and form part of the natural order of events within a workplace. People are all different and we all have our own ways of dealing with pressure. Effective management is a matter of enabling colleagues to sort out any problems without interference and only step in when the communication threatens to destabilise or upset balance within the business.

http://accsys.co.za/news-category/teryl-work

Popular posts from this blog

Agile workers & workspaces - a new way of working..

Being an agile worker is still a work in progress…
Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace?And is it really working? We keep renaming it – remote, activity based and agile work being some of the current terms. The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does look like a great way to work and live, and it seems to be is a high priority for those entering the business world. There is also the development of the agile work space, where people come to the office each day, but don’t have a fixed work area.We used to call it hot desking back in the day and it met with mixed success.Today, office designers have started to create work spaces which are intended to encourage innovative thought, cross departmental collaboration and improved productivity. My research indicates that the mix of engaged and disengaged employees in an open plan workspace does not always have the desired effect of the positive workers influencing the culture.In fact, a case study of a senior execut…

The Gig Economy - HR and other issues

The Gig Economy has emerged as a topic of discussion and I understand that Intuit has posited that 40% of US workers will be independent contractors by 2020.  That is 3 years away! What is a gig employee?  Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb all utilize gig employees as the delivery mechanism for their apps.   While they are all clear that they are just an App and don’t employ the gig employees, governments and employer bodies are analyzing the risks and reports are indicating that they are significant. As a contract worker, which is how Uber defines their drivers, there is not an employer/employee contract in place.    While Uber, and other similar companies, create the mechanism for people to deliver a service, they consider themselves brokers, for want of a better word, and not employers. The UK is looking into the situation and considering legal structures .  The concerns are particularly when people have a single source of income, although they are not formally employed.  This leaves them in a …

Setting Budgets and Targets

Does too much of a stretch impact motivation?    Over many years of setting (and trying to achieve) targets and budgets, getting the balance right between stretch and motivation remains a challenge.

I love Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and their BHAGs in their great book, Built to Last, but if the goals are seen as unachievable too early in the business year, what then?

Is there a way for businesses to achieve success without budgets and targets in place?

Two old favourites " You can only manage what you can measure" and "People do what managers measure" suggest that they can't.  I am sure there must be successful businesses with different methodologies, but most of us need to work towards something.

With that in mind, I think there needs to be stretch, and there needs to be a sense of achievability.

Why would you race against Usain Bolt unless you think you could win?

The same goes for budgets and targets, people need to believe they are possible.

So how do you…