5 Tips on handling uncomfortable conversations

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Uncomfortable conversations and situations with employees are always challenging. You never know how an employee is going to react to bad news. And you don’t want to seem overly domineering either. Therefore, if you’re a business owner or manager, it’s important to handle such situations with extreme care. This will avoid unnecessary tensions within your workforce. Subjects such as hygiene and decorum are popular “uncomfortable conversations” with employees. Here are 5 tips on handling them.

Choose to be polite not patronising

There’s a difference between saying “you’re not a people person, are you?” and “let’s discuss your communication skills”. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. When dealing with difficult employees, it’s important to stay professional. Always explain why you feel the need to have an “uncomfortable conversation”. That way, your employee can understand and learn from their mistakes. The way you handle uncomfortable situations will say a lot about your business. In conclusion, your employees will appreciate a polite management.

Know the difference between private and public conversations

If you feel that an uncomfortable conversation should be directed at more than one employee, call for a team meeting. If it’s something small to point out, like, changing the toilet rolls, etc. then perhaps it’s best to just send out an email. However, if the uncomfortable conversation has something to do with a specific employee, then have a private chat. Solve the problem without embarrassing the person. Handling difficult situations without causing office drama is a sign of good leadership. Your employee might even learn from their mistakes and thank you for handling it so delicately.

Establish whether it’s bad for business or just bad for you

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Is the problem a pet peeve or something that’s affecting everyone? You’re the boss, so if something bothers you, it’s perfectly fine to speak up about it. You do however have to establish whether what’s driving you crazy is something that’s actually bad for business, or just bad for you. The two things can often be mixed up. If you’re constantly bothered by uncomfortable situations, it can drive you mad. Bad hygiene, messy kitchens, loud meetings and annoying music from a computer… it’s bound to affect your work too. Knowing the difference between whether it’s a problem for everyone or just for you will help you solve it accordingly.

Safeguard your interests in your employment contracts

Better safe than sorry, right? If you can foresee any uncomfortable conversations or situations with your employees, protect your interests and make things clear at contract stage. For example, the consumption of alcohol during working hours, the need to be presentable for clients, etc. Depending on the purpose of your business, you can set the right policies and procedures. If everything is agreed in writing, no one can argue with you when you’re in an uncomfortable situation.

Bonus tip: We’ve got 509 Lawyers listed on Yellow. Let them help you prepare some contracts.

Don’t hold a grudge

Try and put your personal feelings aside. If an employee has done something distasteful or insulting to you, don’t let it get in the way of business. If your employee is good at their job, guide them to be better with their behaviour or conduct. Being able to put your personal and subjective feelings aside is a sign of a great leadership. We’ve all made mistakes somewhere down the road, so let’s not be too quick to judge our employees when having uncomfortable conversations.

 

Do you want to avoid or better manage uncomfortable conversations with your employees?

Get in touch with one of these 12 Human Resources & Personnel Consultants or 47 Business Consultants listed on Yellow. Handle all your HR issues professionally. Always visit yellow.com.mt to find your local business solution on the Maltese Islands.

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