Two employees talking in an office

Communication Is Key: Four Difficult HR Conversations

Having difficult, and sometimes awkward, conversations with employees is part of a manager’s role. Often these conversations are about sensitive matters and are uncomfortable for both parties. Good leaders address sensitive issues rather than avoiding them. But how an issue is communicated to an employee can greatly affect the outcome of the situation.

Part of the challenge with having these conversations is getting over the fear or discomfort with having to do it. Some of the hardest conversations can be those regarding personal hygiene, performance issues, or very specific situations relating to a person’s habits. While these conversations can be difficult, they have to happen in order for the issue to be corrected.

Once a concern is brought to your attention, you must decide whether a conversation needs to take place. A single incident usually doesn’t warrant action unless it’s a serious matter. For example, if an employee arrives to work late once in three years, tardiness probably isn’t a concern. However, if this is the third time they’ve been late this week, you’ll need to talk.

After you’ve established that an issue exists and a conversation is needed, it’s important to schedule a meeting with the employee. Every situation is unique and will have its own considerations, but it’s essential that managers communicate the issue with care and take a constructive approach.

Do you think you might need to have a difficult conversation with an employee? Download our FREE Getting Comfortable with Uncomfortable Conversations Guide, which discusses four difficult conversations HR professionals and managers are likely to experience, and how to best address them.

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