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Managers are frequently under-confident about tackling staff on issues that may be judged ‘sensitive’. When not handled with clarity and confidence, discussions that centre on performance, attendance or timekeeping, or more intimate matters like behaviour or even personal hygiene can create unnecessary tensions with the result that things can get worse, not better.

How to Have Difficult Conversations has grown out of my experience in working with people who – as part of their job – need to tackle sensitive topics in a productive, fair and balanced way, and be sure of getting the results they need. This means striking the right note of respectful concern, personally and professionally, while addressing the issues that need to be discussed. The purpose of this workshop is to enhance attendees’ skills so that they can feel and act with greater confidence, set goals for their conversations and respectfully follow through with staff.

At work, such productive conversations reduce the risk that staff members will feel unheard, misunderstood or under-valued. The aim is to produce more collaborative relationships between managers and employees generally, and in particular where the subject under discussion might otherwise result in evasiveness, misunderstandings or confrontation.

Content

  • Introduction and expectations for the day
  • How effective conversations build productive relationships and minimise stress
  • One-to-one conversations; assumptions and fears
  • A framework for effective conversations
  • The productive use of language
  • When managers must tackle sensitive issues
  • Planning the meeting with the employee
  • Taking it up with your manager
  • Setting and maintaining boundaries
  • Deciding on outcomes and goals
  • Listening skills, acknowledgement
  • Summarising, framing the response
  • Monitoring and follow-through
  • Common pitfalls and traps to avoid
  • Review and action planning
  • Communication in sensitive situations
  • Giving news, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, feedback and comment
  • Setting the scene and following through

Objectives

Understanding of the importance of one-to-one relationships at work
Skillfulness in a framework for safe and effective conversations
Greater confidence when tackling sensitive issues or difficult topics with staff and colleagues
Enables more collaborative working to avoid resistance and improved outcomes
Provides an outcome-oriented structure to improve results.

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