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Facilitating a Conversation

Facilitating a Conversation

Challenging poor performance or behaviour is difficult but you can maximise your chances for success if you prepare, identify specific evidence of the problem, find the right space and time to hold the conversation and listen well before agreeing a plan of action.  Very few of us want to have those difficult conversations but by planning, listening and allowing people to identify their own ways to improve you’re more likely to ensure their future engagement.

Any conversation which is intended to address, challenge, recognise, reward or celebrate an individual’s performance should be undertaken away from their immediate work space.  Further to a private conversation you may well talk more widely in front of other colleagues to recognise, reward and celebrate someone’s performance but it’s important to talk privately first.

By considering the following points ahead of your conversation, you’re more likely to achieve successful outcomes.

  • Prepare – define the problem, the evidence of it and what needs to happen.  During the conversation, the first thing you’ll do is listen so don’t charge in with your prepared notes before you give the other person the chance to talk about how things are going.
  • Give notice that you want to have a conversation.
  • Decide whether you let the person know what you want to talk about.
  • Arrange a suitable venue.
  • Make sure there’s enough time to discuss the issue fully.  If you think you’ll be done in 20 minutes, you might be setting yourself up to fail.
  • Make sure you won’t be interrupted
  • Think about how you would like to be treated, particularly if you were struggling and that was having an impact on your work performance.

Sometimes people aren’t struggling, they’re just under-performing or behaving poorly but an effective conversation is key to understanding the reason why the issues have arisen.  Once you both know that, you can move forward to define the improvements that need to be made.

You can read more about how to facilitate a conversation in chapter 5 of Karen Warren’s book ‘Workforce Wellbeing – how to build organisational strength and resilience’.