Karen Brouhard, a counselor in the Faculty & Staff Assistance Office, recently...
Planning the Difficult Conversation
Confrontations regarding job performance can be challenging for both you and the employee; when tension or defensiveness exists or communication has broken down, it is especially tough. The key to a constructive interview is planning it ahead of time.
- Write down your concerns using specific, observable and concrete language.
- Avoid judgmental or diagnostic statements.
- Describe examples or events that support your observations.
- Talk to Human Resources to ensure that you are consistent with University policies.
- Call or see FSAO for a supervisory consultation if you wish. Plan the best approach and alert us that an employee may be referred.
The Difficult Conversation
- Be prepared for the employee to respond—he or she may become defensive and minimize or deny the problem. Your employee may cry or express anger but may also acknowledge and accept responsibility.
- Once you have decided to have the conversation, prepare, practice, and have the conversation in a reasonably short amount of time.
- Listen carefully to your employee’s perceptions, explanations and overall response.
- Keep the conversation focused on job performance.
- Acknowledge your employee’s abilities and history and express confidence if appropriate.
- Follow up the conversation with a memo or e-mail summarizing your points, your performance expectations, a timeline, and next steps.
- Remind the employee that FSAO is a free university resource that can confidentially help him/her identify and resolve any issues that may be contributing to his/her performance problem.
- If you haven’t already, call FSAO to alert us about the employee referral.