How to Make Difficult Employee Conversations Easier

No matter how capable and dedicated your employees are, there are times when you need to manage a situation with an individual on your team. It’s not easy, but here is some advice from Shepell to help you have a more productive conversation.


  • Don’t ignore the problem. Address a complaint that has been made by one of your employees as soon as possible. If you don’t, another employee might, and they may not be as tactful. Negative interactions among employees may create greater problems down the line, such as a hostile work environment or legal concerns.


  • Stay sensitive. Realize that this conversation is not only embarrassing and uncomfortable for you, but for your employee as well. Ensure you give them a heads up about the discussion and ease in to it. Use language that is understanding and be mindful of any issues that might pertain to cultural differences or medical conditions such as depression or anxiety.


  • Shoot straight. Communicate clearly about the problem in a one-on-one setting. Don’t beat around the bush and be clear about expectations moving forward. Avoid setting up group meetings to talk about behaviours that may not pertain to the whole group. Individuals may not realize who it is you’re referring to.


  • Avoid passing the buck. As a practice owner, it’s your responsibility to provide feedback directly to an employee. Instead of saying that you’re only providing this feedback because of other complaints, tell the employee that it’s an issue you’ve noticed and are concerned about. This way, it doesn’t seem like the whole department has been gossiping about the employee.


  • Offer help. Helping employees find a solution is the best way to deal with a bad habit or behavioural issue. Ensure you’re maintaining open lines of communication and are continually providing positive feedback on their progress.


  • Create guidelines. It helps to have a formal policy in place for expected behaviours and dealing with issues when they arise. It’s especially important that your employees understand procedures for protecting patients’ privacy and personal information. Your entire practice could suffer consequences if privacy is breached.


This information is provided by TELUS Health, the provider of CDSPI’s Members’ Assistance Program (MAP).