Author’s note: this is part of a long blog series on our ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. Feel free to look back on previous blogs and explore previous material on communicating and how you can communicate better.
Part 10 – Make It Memorable
If you need to have the same difficult conversation with the same employee a second time, you need to question if your delivery method is effective.
Of course, there is the chance the employee is obstinate and unwilling to change his or her behavior and if that is the case it is time to replace this employee. employee
But, if their job is on the line, they understand they need to change, and the steps to change are clear, most of the time they will change. So, I tend to give the employee the benefit of doubt and think my delivery was not effective (although after doing this for years, I’m confident in my delivery).
The first rule I use is to keep it simple. When I call an employee in for a difficult conversation, we have one thing on the agenda. That’s it, nothing else.
If something else comes up, put it off for a future meeting. The employee needs to understand that this conversation is the most important thing in the world. Nothing else could happen in the company that is more important at that moment than the conversation you are having.
Second, stick to facts. I occasionally refer to rumors and something I heard on the grapevine. But your actions as the boss are tied directly to facts and what the employee has personally said.
In some circles, facts are a matter of opinion; that cannot be true in the workplace. What took place actually took place. The employee was consistently late, the employee actually said something specifically damaging, the employee actually allowed something to occur. The conversation has to begin and end with something that is irrefutable.
What may be up for discussion is why and how, but not what.
Thirdly, constantly making eye contact with the employee is the most important body language you can employ. Every time you look away you diminish your message.
You are not staring down or glaring at the employee. You are cementing the message to the employee. You are looking for signs of lying, of shrugging off your comments, and of dismissing your message. You ask “do you understand what I said?” and you are looking for confirmation. They need to acknowledge you. If they look away and shrug their shoulders, then start all over. “It doesn’t look to me like you understand, can you repeat back to me what we are talking about?” “Can you look me in the eyes and say that, I have to know you understand, because when we are done with this conversation, we are done and I do not plan on bring it up again?”
Matthew 6:22-23 says.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Finally, repeat the action steps as positive steps. The action steps are for the employee to do but are for you to observe.
The employee needs to know you are watching and that is part of the steps.
The employee unquestionably knows the path to get through the issue, but it is up to them to follow it.