Mastering Those Difficult Conversations

We have all been there. Needing to have a conversation with either an employee, an independent contractor or a vendor we are not pleased with at the present moment. I am sure each of us can name multiple situations when faced with this. It could be someone’s work has fallen off and is no longer at the standard it used to be; or it could be someone just not responding in the same timely manner they used to; it might even be a feeling that your work has slipped in the hierarchy of the individual’s priority.

First of all, say something at the very first inkling that something not going right. Ask if everything is ok. The person may say, “Yeah, why are you asking?” Then you can say what you’ve noticed. They may or may not respond. If not, just keep noticing and even making some notes to yourself. In fact you can create a notebook and write down thoughts, ideas, and feedback for each employee or independent contractor with whom you are working. Notes should include all the positives as well as that which needs improvement.

Sharing the positives is always much easier. It is sharing what needs improvement that is often most challenging. If you wait too long to say something, your list just keeps on growing, and you wind up with a pile of things with which you are dissatisfied. It’s like telling a spouse or child to hang up their clothes at the end of the day. If you wait until weeks go, they’ve created a very big pile and you are really annoyed. As a result, your comments are much stronger, and you might even explode.

It is much easier for a person to receive needs improvement feedback in small doses. They can then take specific action steps, some of which may be your suggestions, to improve. In the long run this builds trust as the person realizes you are not out to get them, but rather are coaching them to be an outstanding employee.

Although independent contractors are not employees, this is also true when working with them. All too often, people just say I won’t hire them again. Sometimes it is worth the extra effort to let them know where improvement is necessary. Wouldn’t you like to know if you were in their shoes?

My best tips when preparing for these discussions:

• Keep a list with specifics dates, times, situations

• Check in with yourself—did you provide the needed information or parameters?

• Be willing to own up to the person if you didn’t share the responsibility

• What is the best outcome you can imagine, or what do you want to happen?

• Take at least three deep breaths before scheduling, and then again before having the conversation with the other person

I’m open to hearing any additional suggestions you may have. Please share your ideas here, or reach out via the Contact Us page. I’d love to hear from you.