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Having worked in HR for a number of years, I often find myself coaching managers on how to word difficult conversations.  This could be a face to face meeting; how to word a warning letter; or a company-wide redundancy announcement.

Naturally most people avoid conflict, but avoidance can be the worst thing to do.  With a little support and guidance, tackling the issue could be very rewarding and far less confrontational than you think.

Don’t let your fear of saying the wrong thing takeover the situation. Letting things fester could not only impact on your relationship with the person(s) in question, it may also be affecting your credibility as a manager with your colleagues and peers.  The truth is, if you can see that something needs tackling, everyone else can probably see it too and are wondering what’s stopping you.

Many of our clients understand the procedural do’s and don’ts, but still find it helpful to talk through the approach and form of words to use to achieve the desired result.  When dealing with third hand allegations for example, it may still need addressing, but to accuse someone directly without evidence of wrongdoing is likely to backfire and leave you at risk of damaging the relationship or accused of bullying.  This don’t mean it can’t be dealt with efficiently and effectively however, if you plan your conversation and chose your words carefully.

Phrases I regularly use as an HR professional:

  • There is a perception that…
  • There appears to be…
  • It has been brought to my attention that… can you comment on this please?
  • On balance…
  • What is your recollection of…
  • What is your understanding of…
  • How do you feel this could be best resolved?
  • What support do you need (if any) moving forward?
  • How do you think this may be perceived by other people?

Selling change in a positive way, handling allegations in a non-accusatory way and managing poor performance in an assertive but supportive manner are all easily achievable with the right tone and form of words.  This is second nature to us and we genuinely want to help you to feel confident and get the results you need without losing sleep and no matter how difficult the personalities involved may be.

I believe a key role for HR is to coach and enable managers to be credible, effective and in control when dealing with people.  At Friary West we love this aspect of our role, so if you know of anyone who could really use a sounding board or guidance to tackle a difficult conversation, we’d love to speak to them – we know that we can be the difference that makes the difference.

Feel free to connect with our team on 01621 730824 or, we’d love to support you in getting the results that you need.