Tips for Having Difficult Discussions at Work

//Tips for Having Difficult Discussions at Work

Tips for Having Difficult Discussions at Work

A quality many successful construction leaders share is that they are masters at having difficult conversations. They know how and when to give feedback to their employees, as well as how and when to ask for feedback in return. Whether it’s letting a team member go or informing someone that they will not be receiving a promotion, it’s important to keep these tough discussions productive. Here are some tips for having difficult discussions at work including how to give and receive feedback.

Advice for Providing Feedback

Planning and practicing a conversation opener is a great place to start. Focus on keeping feedback behavioral, business-focused, and timely. Timeliness is essential because the value of constructive criticism declines significantly every day that it’s delayed and runs the risk of becoming stale. Avoid providing feedback when there is too much tension between management and employees. Annual performance reviews should include actions that took place during all twelve months, not just good or bad things that you witnessed recently. Some additional strategies include:

  • Request employee self-assessments. Ask employees what goals they accomplished along with areas they can improve upon.
  • Choose a neutral, private setting. Avoid embarrassing employees with open-office discussions.
  • Anticipate a reaction. Although anger or crying are normal responses to stress, it can still be challenging to contain at times. Be empathetic, but stay focused on providing constructive feedback to change any unwanted behaviors.
  • Be direct and specific. Dive directly into any critiques instead of dancing around them. Don’t sandwich negative feedback between compliments because it will only create more confusion.

Suggestions for Receiving Feedback

Construction leaders should also be open to receiving feedback and constructive criticism from their team. You may disagree with feedback, yet still have an open mind. and be open to change. It shouldn’t be a one-way discussion either way, and even difficult discussions can have positive outcomes if you’re open to constructive criticism. Don’t hesitate to ask questions for clarification if something doesn’t make sense. It’s perfectly acceptable to request more tools and support to do your job better. Finally, always view feedback as a gift that you can leverage to improve your teams cohesion and productivity. Something that separates successful leaders from those who are average is that they are always improving their skills.

When it comes to effective leadership, it’s important ensure that difficult conversations are meaningful experiences that promote further development. Learning to have challenging discussions with your team builds trust and leads to better collaboration and productivity down the line.


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By | 2020-09-02T13:32:34-04:00 August 4th, 2020|Construction Blog|

About the Author:

The Birmingham Group has been serving the construction industry since 1967. Brian Binke took over the firm in 1995 and since that time, he has personally placed over 1200 construction managers and senior leaders, with company revenues ranging from $10 million dollars to the largest ENR 400 companies in the industry. Brian is an industry innovator, with a specialized skillset in construction. His keen understanding of business, the construction industry, and ability to effectively match and recruit top leaders has led to many accolades. He was ranked the #1 International Billing Owner in the construction industry for his own personal production and has been consistently recognized as one of the Top 10 International Billing Owners out of 800 owners worldwide. This includes owners across every industry. In 2013, Brian was awarded the #1 International Billing Owner within the entire network. For over two decades, Brian has been considered one of the most influential thought leaders in the construction industry. His business and construction knowledge are used as a resource for some of the nation’s most prominent publications. In the past year alone, Brian has been quoted in or authored articles for The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, MoneyWatch, Construction Today, ConstructionDive, United Rentals, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, American Express, Builder Magazine, and Human Resource Executive, among others. "I believe companies are a lot like sports teams. The team with the best players usually wins. It is my passion to deliver the absolute best talent to my client companies – the market’s top performers, the talent that every company wants to hire but which seldom seems available. To put it simply, I thrive on helping my clients build their Dream Team." - Brian Binke, The Birmingham Group

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