People problems and hard conversations

In my most recent podcast,  dealing with people problems, I told you about a formula I use to prepare for hard conversations. Here is the step by step guide that I use to prepare. Try it, find out what works for you and what doesn’t and modify it to your personal preference.

Step 1:
Outline the issue with the person. It should go a little something like this

This is the issue on the table. Here is why it is important. This is my desired outcome. Here is everything you need to know about the issue. These are the options I have considered or tried. Here is what I need from you today.

Step 2:
Schedule a meeting with the “problem person”

When the time comes, inform the person that you are going to have an adult conversation with them. Let them know that this conversation is not meant to hurt their feelings, it is meant to be constructive. Let them know you are having a conversation in the hopes to help the company and to help them grow as a person. (Don’t think it will work? Go back three paragraphs)

Step 3:
Give it to them straight

Be as unemotional as possible here. This is the reason we outlined the issue in step 1. Give it to them straight and do not let it get out of hand. Remember the goal of this meeting is not to point a finger or prove someone is doing something wrong. It is to help the person learn something new and grow as a person.

Step 4:
Come to an agreement about the issue

This meeting cannot come to an end until you both are on the same page about the problem. It needs to be clearly identified in an unemotional way. It needs to be clearly outlined why it is an issue. Finally, it needs to be outlined what you both plan to do together to solve the issue. You need to have VERY specific action steps to leave the meeting with. (Sound familiar again, what are we doing right now?)

Step 5:
Follow up, follow up and follow up again!

It is not enough to leave that meeting with action steps outlined and never think of it again. You need to follow up with that person every step of the way. Remember again the point of the follow up is not to catch them not doing what they are supposed to be doing. We aren’t trying to point fingers here. The point of the follow up is to uncover what issues or hurdles have come up in the meantime. Then you are equipped to help coach them through the next step.

To help resolve people problems in your company you need to take on a coaching role rather than a disciplinary role. People do not wake up in the morning and immediately think to themselves, “I can’t wait to be a pain in the ass to everyone around me today!” That wouldn’t make any sense. The more likely case is your problem people want to be valuable and contribute to the organization. They just need help, YOUR HELP.

Good luck!

Adam Dufresne Business Coach

Cell: 613.709.4299
Email adam.dufresne [at]

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