Tough Conversations No One Wants To Have

I came into the Human Resources field knowing I would have to branch out of my comfort zone and do things I had never done before, but there is one topic I hope I never have to address.  I dread the day when I have to have a discussion with an employee regarding one of the “tough” topics; you know, personal hygiene, inappropriate dress, unwanted flirtatious behavior, etc.  After coming back to reality I now realize that it is inevitable that I will encounter this type of conversation at some point in my career, so I have come up with a few ideas I feel will help make the conversation a little easier.

  • First of all, these types of conversations are awkward for everyone involved, so don’t make it harder than is has to be by dragging out the conversation.  Get right to the point and let the employee know exactly why you are having the meeting.
  • As you explain the issue in discussion, be sure to get as many facts as possible; sometimes the employee is not at fault or isn’t even aware of the problem.
  • Allow them to ask questions, but never disclose the names of the employees who brought the issue to your attention. 
  • Involve yourself in the solution.  Rather than saying, “YOU need to fix this problem”, you should ask, “How can WE fix this problem?”  The employee will most likely be embarrassed, so take some pressure off of them and offer some solutions to resolve the issue.
  • Once you have come to an agreement on a solution, come up with a timeframe in which the changes need to be made.
  • Be sure to follow-up with the employee to ensure they are taking steps to fix the problem. 
  • Last, keep your conversation confidential.  The last thing an employee needs is to be the topic of conversation amongst their co-workers.

Overall, the best mindset to have going into one of these meetings is to put yourself in the employees’ position.  Again, it is tough on everyone, so be honest but use a soft delivery.


4 responses to this post.

  1. It is the best blog, how employee should take advatange of the HR.


  2. Excellent blog Brittany! I plan on pursuing HR after I graduate, and these types of conversations are inevitable. I appreciate the insight on how to make them go easier. Great Job!


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