Often, leaders and managers have received little to no training in how to have a difficult conversation, and thus may end up avoiding the situation altogether until it becomes serious.
This series of 3 sessions aims to demystify the process of preparing for, holding and - most importantly - following up on, a difficult conversation. It's based on a face-to-face workshop that Making Teams Work has been delivering since 2015 and draws on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP), amongst others.
What makes a conversation 'difficult'?
This introduction to the subject will aim to reduce the anxiety out of conversations that most of us would rather avoid having. We’ll look at what lies behind the difficulty by hearing from two pre-recorded interviews/ discussions with people who have had relevant experiences that were successful and un-successful.
As a supporting model, we'll look very briefly at the Herzburg Two-factor theory and how that might inform our understanding of why a person might be unhappy at work – leading to their performance or behaviour becoming unsatisfactory.
How to give feedback: The NICER feedback model
Many ‘difficult’ conversations are triggered because of unhelpful behaviour or attitudes displayed over an extended period. I believe this can often be avoided by providing clearer and more actionable feedback quickly after the initial event.
The NICER feedback model was developed following frustration with the commonly used ‘Feedback Sandwich’ which is usually ineffective for several reasons. This session covers what works and doesn't when giving feedback, an overview of the NICER model, and group work using learning scenarios.
Managing a difficult conversation: The PEAR process
When feedback has not had the required effect, or if a performance/behavioural situation escalates too rapidly, a difficult conversation may be necessary. This session will explore the emotional aspects of such conversations and how to manage that through good preparation, application, and follow-up.
Referring to the first module on what makes a conversation difficult, I will walk you through the steps in the PEAR process using a worked example. Participants will be encouraged to find a learning buddy to work through a sample conversation with.