It’s exciting when you become a manager. More pay, a bigger office, the feeling of being recognized. But with great power comes great responsibility. And one of those responsibilities is having conversations with your employees that are less than pleasant. Whether it be asking why a project wasn’t completed, putting a long time employee on a PIP, or even firing your staff member, managers need to handle these conversations professionally and with tact.
So what’s a new manager to do? Here are my top 3 tips for having those less than pleasant conversations.
The first time you have to have a hard conversation can be nerve racking. One way to make it easier is to write out talking points ahead of time. You can even discretely have them in the meeting. Note that I said talking points, not a script- that could lead to some awkwardness. Once you have your points, practice what you’re going to say. The first time I fired someone, I rehearsed in the mirror for hours the night before. Make sure you’re clear on what you need to say to help make the conversation easier.
2. Be Direct
There’s nothing worse than having to have the hard conversation again. Many managers water down their message to try and soften the blow. However, this doesn’t serve you well. Employees can’t improve if they don’t clearly understand what the problem is. You could use a compliment sandwich- start with something they’ve been doing well, then clearly state where the improvement is needed. The key here is to be kind, but direct.
3. Remember Their Dignity
Sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the frustration of poor performance and forget that there’s a person behind the actions. While you certainly need to tackle the issue, it’s important to remember to preserve the dignity of the employee while doing so. That might mean having the conversation in private, not venting to other employees about the issues, or even making sure to fire them at a time where they can pack their desk without others around.