Mangers often describe performance counselling as the most stressful activity they have to undertake — that stress has repercussions for the organisation. All too often, managers find an excuse to avoid having the difficult conversation they need to have with employees whose behaviour has deviated from the organisation's required standards. Although in the short term, managers avoid discussing sensitive and difficult issues, in the long term they create problems for themselves, the organisation and the employee. Also, when managers do muster up the courage to have the difficult conversation, they often do so clumsily, which can exacerbate the situation.
The need to give feedback is best highlighted by looking at the consequences of NOT Giving Feedback. Here are some of those consequences:
So how do you hold difficult conversations that are constructive and professional and that don't lead to further grievance or conflict?
Here are some tips that might help you prepare:
As hard as these types of conversations can be, it is good that you care enough about the person's success as a valued employee to make the time and effort to hold these discussions. Above all, unless the matter is of an unlawful nature, maintain happiness in your workplace by keeping the discussions confidential.
If feedback is planned and managed sensitively, the response is usually positive. Planning doesn't of course guarantee a positive response. But a lack of planning and technique will make a positive response far less likely. You can't always tell staff what they want to hear, however you can tell them in a way they will be prepared to listen.
Julian Smith is a partner in the Maddocks Commercial team.
Julian advises extensively in the following areas:
Julian advises clients ranging from public companies servicing the wholesale financial services market to high net worth individuals and their advisers.
Julian has been with Maddocks since undertaking articles in 2001.
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