If you’ve been in any sort of managerial role for a while, you’ve had to tackle some tough conversations - and talking about an employee's work ethic or attitude can be among the toughest.
No matter how many times you’ve done it, breaking the news
of a dismissal or redundancy is never easy. Nor is having to tell someone to change their attitude or that their work just isn’t good enough.
Behavioral scientist and strategist Darren Hill, co-founder of Pragmatic Thinking, shares his tips for handling these potentially delicate or awkward situations:
1. ‘You no longer have a job.’ The dismissal or restructure conversation
“Don’t even attempt to remove emotion from the conversation,” says Hill. “There will be emotion and you will have to deal with it. Recognize that tears and sadness are okay but tread carefully with sympathy vs empathy. Statements such as, ‘It looks like you are really upset’ are helpful, while ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you,’ sends the message: ‘I’m glad it’s you and not me.’
“Always remember to keep the tone and volume of your voice underneath the other person’s. If it does get heated voices can be raised. Never be tempted to match the escalation. People do not usually shout for very long if the other party doesn’t reciprocate, as it makes them feel uncomfortable.
“The social rule of direct eye contact is dangerous. Although we’re taught to look someone in the eye, this is the most personal communication medium and the person on the receiving end often has no choice but to take the message personally. Share an independent visual medium such as some written notes to help you talk about ‘it’ (the restructure or termination) instead of ‘you.’” (continued.)