When having development conversations with employees, minimize the use of email for detailed conversations, a change in direction, new thoughts or for following up on mistakes. Email allows for misinterpretation and does not ensure understanding or alignment. Be sure to encourage employees as they progress on tasks, especially when they are new and you see them do things right. If you are following up on a mistake, try these simple steps:
- Focus on what is going right first. This sets the tone of the conversation and allows the person to feel safe and appreciated.
- Next speak to the issue at hand and ask what they think they should have done to give them a chance to correct it. If it was beyond their abilities, give them something within their means.
- Repeat back in a paraphrased way what they said and what is agreed to so you can ensure understanding and alignment.
- Voicing your confidence in them even though they made a mistake allows them to feel they can accomplish what is asked.
- Follow up frequently to see that the mistake is corrected and the employee is back on track.
If you must have a difficult conversation, ask for our detailed best practice sheet. The condensed steps are below:
- Prepare ahead of time. Think of a specific example you want to cover. Consider how the person may react by thinking about their personality and their current situation. Prepare yourself with discussion options.
- Schedule the meeting and think about the best environment to hold the discussion to put the person at ease. You need them to stay open to input.
- State your issue with facts only explaining why this is important.
- Ask for their input about the situation.
- Ask open ended questions and clarify until you fully understand their view.
- Ask to offer your alternate input if different from theirs. Make it safe for them to say yes by showing you are on their side and want to help.
- Discuss back and forth to get alignment on what is possible. Try to get as many of their ideas for fixing the situation as possible. This allows them to feel empowered and keep ownership.
- Agree on next steps and timelines.
- Thank them for their input and support and end by showing your confidence in them.