Speed Review: 101 Tough Conversations to Have With Employees

A Manager's Guide to Addressing Performance, Conduct, and Discipline Challenges

by Paul Falcone

Speed Review: 101 Tough Conversations to Have With Employees
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Tackling the Hardest Human Resources Problems

As every experienced manager knows, changing people’s habits can be extremely difficult. One of the hardest things a manager needs to do in his or her work is to have face-to-face conversations with employees who have done something wrong in the workplace.

To help managers work through sexually offensive remarks, poor productivity, excessive tardiness, cultural insensitivity and dozens of other common workplace landmines, human resources expert Paul Falcone presents the tools a manager needs to reach a solution quickly while helping both manager and employee maintain their dignity.

Confronting a Moonlighter

For example, how does a manager deal with an employee whose second job is beginning to interfere with his or her job performance? As he does for all of his topics, Falcone offers smart advice for the manager along with a sample script that demonstrates how he or she can get the employee back on track.

Through a realistic discussion, Falcone walks the manager through a thoughtful investigation of the moonlighting issue that confirms the problem, informs the employee of the organization’s expectations, presents alternatives that can benefit both the employee and the organization, and describes the conflicts of interest that another job creates. By showing managers how to delicately address a performance problem before it gets out of hand, Falcone helps organizations make an employee aware of rules and procedures without stepping over the line into the employee’s private affairs.

Falcone’s book includes a variety of common workplace situations that range from those that require supervisory discussions, such as putting a halt to an attitude problem or mediating employee disputes, to dilemmas involving personal appearance and cultural differences.

Falcone also describes the best words a manager can use when taking corporate disciplinary actions; laying people off;  and firing people for theft, fraud, sexual harassment, insubordination or threats of violence.

Rules of Communication

One helpful chapter in 101 Tough Conversations describes several rules of communication that can improve any manager-employee conversation. First, Falcone explains that “it’s not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Second, he reminds managers that they must allow employees to assume responsibility for what they’ve done wrong without embarrassing them or making them mad. By offering a variety of strategies for helping people acknowledge their guilt without provoking their anger, Falcone shows managers how to avoid making matters worse.

Finally, Falcone explains that supervisors must remember to give others what they want for themselves. If you want respect, open communication and better social acceptance, give it to your subordinates. This is a basic law of behavior and how trust and respect are built among individuals and in teams. By reminding managers of the human aspects of human resources, and showing them how to keep that humanity in the important conversations they have with their people, Falcone offers a valuable guide for keeping confrontations from sliding down the slippery slope of negativity by maintaining compassion and understanding in discussions that cannot be avoided.

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