The DIY manual for crucial conversations in the workplace


Wouldn’t it be nice if you could hire someone to communicate your expectations to employees, to have those awkward conversations in your place? Sort of like a conversational plumber who could do all the dirty work, leaving you free to step in once the problem has been ‘fixed’. Now you can find out how the professionals do it and tackle those crucial conversations yourself.

During the Straight Talk training course hosted by Alusani Skills & Training Network®, communications specialist and Alusani® Course Leader shares her secrets on how to become a better and more confident communicator.

Here she gives us a taste of the principles that will simplify those tough conversations:

Step 1: Identify the problem
Before addressing negative behaviour in employees, observe them over a period of time and ascertain whether the behaviour is a ’once off’ occurrence or a recurring problem. The ‘wrong conversation’ happens when we don’t properly identify the issue according to the Alusani® Course Leader. Get to the root of the problem before you attempt to solve it.

Step 2: Make sure you have the right tools
The right conversation starts with you. Are you self controlled and self-aware? Look at your role in the issue and objectively evaluate what you can do differently in order to avoid an emotional confrontation.

Step 3: Create a plan of action
Start by planning the tone of your conversation. ‘You can set a tone before you even speak’ says the Alusani® Course Leader. Remember to do your homework and get all the facts before you start the conversation so as to remove any assumptions you might have about the issue. Write down your perceptions of the situation and organize your thoughts.

Step 4: Get your hands dirty
The conversation itself is almost secondary to the preparation and planning that precedes it. The crucial conversation should be a verbal replica of the outline in your plan. ‘Stick to the plan as it creates a safe space” . Be aware of verbal and physical cues that indicate stress or discomfort in the person you are addressing. While the plan is there to guide don’t let it override the human element of communication. Remain neutral and open to hearing the other side of the story.

Step 5: Final tasks
At all times make it your objective to move toward a solution, or desirable standard. If the situation improves after the conversation has taken place make a note of praising the employee for his/her efforts. It is always good practice to give positive reinforcements.

• Approach the issue with caution and sensitivity.
• Plan before every conversation
• Give positive feedback once the issue has been resolved

• Nag employees
• Ignore the problem and hope things will change automatically
• Communicate in random outbursts sparked by anger and frustration

For more information call 011 447 7470, email or visit Alusani Skills and Training Network

By Cindy Payle

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