Dealing with difficult employees can be well... you guessed it. Difficult.
Sometimes, it can feel quite personal. But that is typically not the case.
Before you go into one of these difficult conversations, the first thing you want to do is prepare yourself. I don't mean with documents and HR files, I mean make sure you are in a good head space. Take deep breathes...this will help you reset your nervous system.
Second: Give them your full attention. Let them speak freely and don't interupt. Take notes and ask questions as they speak.
Third: Keep the conversation focused, and if it goes off track, take a break before proceeding further. Answer all of their concerns with facts and data. Keep the emotion out of the conversation to your absolute best ability. Know that sometimes the conversation will go smoothly, and other times it won't. In those cases, the conversation will move from supportive, to directive. Always admit if you are wrong.
Fourth: Summerize the conversation, and set a plan for following up.
Remember, as a leader, everyone is always watching you. Letting a problem go sends a much louder message to your staff than addressing it head on.
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In friendship, love, and leadership,