How To Have Difficult Conversations With Your Employees


“You never know when a few sincere words can have a positive impact on lives!” This has to be our mantra while we engage in any conversation, especially with our employees. One must remember, that there is no single way to handle a conversation, particularly when it is due to the extraordinary circumstances brought on by the coronavirus. Each business, workplace and employee relationship is different and while the circumstances may differ, there are some basic points to bear in mind that can ease the process of having a difficult conversation, for everyone.

  • Be transparent

 Often beating around the bush can be a mentally taxing task for both, the employer and the employee. So, it is advisable that employers should take some time to put themselves in the employees’ shoes and approach the conversation constructively, with care. Revealing facts and having a clear-cut conversation has always been a winner. Being direct, and explaining the context of the meeting in an honest but considerate way will help greatly.

  • Demonstrate respect and compassion –

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity when their financial security and wellbeing is being jeopardised. It’s also important for organisation morale. How you treat people when they leave an organisation is not lost on those who remain. In some cases, you might have to make tough decisions as the employer; however, you can still be supportive and direct them to your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), if you have one or, you can provide a reference while connecting them with business owners you know are looking for employees. Thus being respectful while putting your view across is imperative.

  •  Listen – give them a chance to speak!

“Every good conversation begins with good listening. Often, viewing the ‘other side of the coin’ resolves issues, clears doubts and misunderstanding and leads you to a clearer perspective about the matter concerned. Make it your mission to understand your counterpart’s / employee’s point of view, feelings, and ideas – You might learn something important.  Remember, it is a conversation and not a monologue

  • Demonstrate your trust in them

Making someone feel trusted is half the battle won. This will enable your employee to open up and communicate the underlying issues which maybe bothering him/her. Again, in another situation, your employee may not be able to continue working in your business in the future and trusting that most employees understand the need to hand back laptops, phones and other work equipment before they leave will only stand you in good stead. However, it is important to remove all access and secure systems before your employee’s departure; therefore the difference between trust and blind faith has to be understood. This can always be managed in a dignified way, that makes your employee feel trusted.

  • Follow up after a conversation

Following up after a conversation is a good way to introspect, learn and mend ways (if needed) in future. It is a sort of a readiness you engage in for your future conversations. Take time to reflect on how things went and seek out people you trust to offer their perspective on the same.  Also, once you’ve had the initial conversation with your employee, keep ongoing contact with them, whether they are still at work or not, to provide support. Taking this approach may speak volumes about your core values and principles as an employer.

By following these steps, you are sure to increase the likelihood of having an effective conversation. Supporting your team members can reap some very tangible rewards: greater workplace satisfaction, higher employee retention, improved teamwork, and no communication gaps!!

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