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4 Tips for Difficult Employee Conversations

 

As an IT manager, there will be times when you need to address employees regarding performance issues, conflicts, or other difficult topics. Although this can be challenging, it needs to be done sooner rather than later. You need every employee functioning as a cohesive unit to keep the company moving forward.

Implement these four tips to effectively handle challenging employee discussions:

 

1. Include a Witness  

Ask a manager or HR professional to be present during your conversation. This is especially important when discussing policy violations, behavioral issues, or anything that involves disciplinary coaching. Brief your third party on the situation to make sure you understand each other’s roles and responsibilities before the talk.

2. Remain Positive

Maintain an open line of communication with a coaching style of dialogue. This helps the employee avoid becoming defensive and argumentative. Begin by asking simple questions such as “How’s everything going?” or “Can I have a few moments of your time to talk about some feedback about your behavior?” Clarify exactly what the issue is and specific examples of how the employee can improve. Include facts and data to support your statements. For instance, “I have some suggestions for what we can do. Can you share some ideas so we can reach this goal?” Provide the necessary tools, resources, and support to reach milestones for improvement and measure success. Finish the conversation on a positive note.

3. Tie the Issue to the Business

Point out how the issue creates a concern for the team or company. For instance, consistent absenteeism may mean that teammates have to add to their already full workload to ensure tasks get done on time. Or, a conflict with a coworker can make it more difficult for employees to collaborate on projects. This shows your main focus is on the company, not the employees’ personal lives. Work with the employee to create a plan to improve and a job-related consequence if they do not. Making the employee feel heard is empowering and encourages them to do better.

4. Maintain Confidentiality

When addressing a conflict between employees, keep the conversation limited to those involved. Make sure they understand that what they disclose may need to be shared with others. Meet individually with the employee you received feedback about and others who witnessed the incident to discuss their behavior. Use the information you gather to determine what happened. Work with the employees to find a fair resolution. Hold everyone accountable for keeping with the final agreement.

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How to Help Your IT Team to Remain Focused During Long Projects

Any team will look at a deadline that’s six, nine, or 12 months away and see it as a distant problem. These kinds of deadlines always feel like plenty of time to complete a project. 

Yet, those months can disappear quickly. And it’s your job to ensure that your team doesn’t find themselves two weeks away from a six-month deadline with six months of work left to do.

How do you keep your IT on task even on a long project? Use these tips to help stay on track and deliver better results.

Break It Down into Milestones or Sprints

Achieving a goal always sparks motivation. But what do you do if the overall goal is a year or even more away?

While the work completed today will contribute to the end goal, your team need to see results sooner to stay focused. That’s why “chunking” work into milestones (or sprints, if you want to dabble in Agile) wins the day.

When you set milestones, you mark the passing of time in a tangible way. Reaching those milestones equates to an accomplishment and thus boosts morale. Even better, smaller segments of work simplify planning, so you can get the project off the ground faster.

Reiterate the “Why” as You Work

Why are you completing this project? And why does this milestone fit into the end goal?

If you want to keep teams focused and motivated, then you need focus as much on the “why” question as on the task at hand. When team members know why they need to accomplish a task or even why the deadline is what it is, then they will be more likely to see the value, which will stop their attention from drifting to other work.

Give Frequent Feedback

Milestones also make it easier to provide regular feedback to all team members. Feedback offers emotional motivation by boosting our sense of self-esteem. When teams get good feedback regularly, they want to keep repeating the actions that earned those feelings.

Are you looking for the next valuable member of your project team — or even your team lead? Learn more about the RighStone 360 process and find out how we make IT project execution a success.

 


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