How a Good Leader Prepares to Have a Difficult Conversation

leadership conversation

There are a lot of positive aspects to being a business leader. That is why many people choose to earn their Master of Science in Leadership degree at Grand Canyon University.

Leading a team of people toward a business goal can be extremely rewarding. However, there are a lot of stressors in leadership. A leader must trust their team to make progress toward big goals. They must always be thinking about what is next. It is sometimes difficult for a leader to enjoy the present moment because they are always looking forward.

One part of leadership that can be especially daunting is having to have difficult conversations with employees. A great leader gets to know their team and values individual member contributions. So, when an employee has a hard time or is behaving in a way that is creating a hard time for others, a leader must step in and have a difficult conversation. The best way to make this less stressful, is to prepare.

4 Steps for Preparing to Have Hard Conversations with Employees

1. Gather All the Facts

Make sure you understand exactly what is going on. Gather all of the information about what is causing the employee's performance to falter. Find out if there is anything in the employee's personal life or happening on their team that may be causing the change in behavior. Additionally, make sure you hear from everyone involved if there was a specific incident.

2. Decide on the Best Outcome

Difficult conversations do not always have to lead to job termination. In some cases, a leader may step in as a warning to a valued employee. They may also step in when they feel that something else is going on and they want to support the employee through a tough time. Before going into the conversation, a leader should decide what the ideal outcome is. It could be that the person is let go with the hopes that the person understand the decision. Or it may be that the person understands that people are looking out for their best interest and are concerned about what is going on with them.

3. Plan out the Conversation

Decide exactly what to say to the person when they enter your office. You want to be direct and specific with what you share with them. Your honesty will assure them that the reason they are receiving this feedback is important and so are they. Be sure to fully clarify while you are having the conversation by presenting all of the fact that you have gathered and without implicating anyone else.

4. Determine How to Manage Your Emotions

Difficult conversations can be stressful and this can lead to your emotions getting the better of you. Before going into the conversation, be sure to assess how you feel and put those feelings aside in order to be as objective as possible. If you do let your emotions take over, try to move them into empathy rather than anger.

A good leader will likely have many difficult conversations throughout their career. Learn how to prepare for those conversations during your coursework in leadership with the Master of Science in Leadership at Grand Canyon University.

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