Handling awkward conversations

This is not a conversation I want to have

How many times have you put off having an awkward conversation with an employee, hoping things will improve and the problem will go away?

The reality is, this doesn’t often happen. The situation gets worse and you regret not nipping it in the bud when you had the chance.

The boss’s problem

Awkward conversations with employees are particularly difficult within small businesses.

Chances are you, the boss, work closely with your small team. Over time you get to know each other quite well; sharing a drink after work, learning about families and what’s happening at the weekend. Friendships are made.

But there will be times when awkward conversations must be had. There are several reasons why these situations arise; poor performance, bad time keeping, a resignation even personal hygiene.

That awkward conversation can’t be put off any longer.

Nobody’s baby is ugly!

One reason why business owners struggle with these conversations is that it’s hard to keep their own emotions in check. After all the business is their baby and they are extremely protective of it.

Such conversations in larger organisations don’t usually take place by an employee’s direct manager. In a small business, where all employees report into the owner, that ‘once removed’ line of communication is nonexistent.

Still, the conversation should not be put off until later.

There is a solution

Handling awkward conversations

To create the best practice seen in a larger organisation the solution is to involve an HR consultant.

Many owners of small businesses will have an outsourced HR Consultant who creates their company handbook and employee contracts. The HR Consultant is likely to be the best person to conduct these awkward conversations.

This is something that Lloyd HR Consultancy does regularly so we have extensive experience. We’ve probably met with the employee on previous occasions, such as when they first joined the company or during appraisals, so have already started to build a relationship. We find that we can get to the root of the problem quickly. An employee may find it easier to be open and honest with us, sharing information they might find difficult to say to their boss. We can then work out the solution that is best for everyone.

Exit interviews

When someone resigns it’s not a legal requirement to conduct an exit interview, but we do recommend that these meetings are carried out.

Useful information can be gained from exit interviews. There may be reasons why someone is leaving that are out of your control, such as a change in personal circumstance. But there may be reasons that you can and should address. Changes to ensure you retain existing employees as well as making your business more attractive to future employees.

Understanding the attraction of your competitors can lead to insights that will improve your own business.

We’re happy to conduct awkward conversations on your behalf. It’s likely to be the best scenario all round.