1 Deal with it in a timely manner
If there’s something to talk about, act sooner rather than later. Don’t put off something that left unchecked could become a major issue. For example if somebody has a tendency to make minor numerical mistakes in reports, discuss it with them straight away, rather than waiting until they make a significant mistake that causes embarrassment and upset.
2 Pick a good time and day for the conversation
Avoid Friday at 4pm or after a hard meeting. Choose a moment when both parties have time for a worthwhile conversation.
3 Wake up and drink the coffee
Create a relaxing environment for this conversation. Perhaps somewhere outside the office will be more conducive to a good atmosphere. Even if you are in the office, you can bring your colleague a drink.
4 Know what you want from the conversation
Be clear about what you would like from the conversation, what change in behaviour you want to see. Then you are well placed to discuss what progress will look like.
5 Start with the positives
Thank the person for making time to meet you. Remind yourself what your colleague does well, what you appreciate about them. These qualities will be the foundation for a positive conversation.
6 Stick to facts and descriptions so that it doesn't get personal
It’s OK to say, “You were 10 minutes late” – as that describes observable behaviour. It’s not a good idea to say, “You are lazy” – as that is ascribing (undesirable) characteristics to a person.
7 Keep an open mind
Keep negative assumptions out of the conversation. Just because somebody is frowning doesn’t mean they are unhappy. They may simply be thinking hard.
8 Take a collaborative approach
Develop a shared interest on making progress with respect to this issue you are dealing with. Look for areas of agreement - something you both want.Finding common ground will reduce confrontation and increase collaboration.
9 Build joint solutions
Whatever your colleague proposes is more likely to be actioned and sustained. As you look towards action, ask questions that enable this - What is a good way forwards? What can you do? What support can I give you? What feedback would be useful along the way?
10 Know when to end
If you reach an impasse, it may be time to stop or re-arrange for another time. If you reach agreement, the job is done, so stop.
If you’d like to learn more, please join us for our workshop “Raising Performance - From difficult to constructive conversations”