Twice this week I’ve had well meaning folk say “I don’t envy you”, “I’d hate your job”… It really got me thinking, why?
I could write a whole article on the perception and value of HR, but in this instance both comments stemmed from the need to have a ‘difficult conversation’ and the bigger picture of emotionally charged situations, being the bearer of bad news and having to deal with the fall out. HR is all doom and gloom right? 😉
Sure, it’s not always easy and sometimes I do have the conversations no one else wants to have, but why is it we don’t want to have these conversations? What is it we’re scared of and how can we approach it differently?
· Fear of confrontation? Ok, so when you fail a probation, put someone at risk of redundancy or have any other ‘difficult conversation’ they might shout at you (but they probably won’t. Although someone did throw a chair at me once)… but so what? It’s not about you, it’s about them. If they shout at you, or cry, or react in some other extreme way, all you can do is be kind, allow them time to think, a short break, whatever feels right. Just don’t shout back! Very rarely will it be personal 😊
· Fear of getting it wrong? You’re human. You won’t always say the right thing, but get your facts straight, seek advice on the correct procedure if you’re unsure and have a rough outline of how you want to structure the discussion. If you think you’ll forget something, write it down. Stick to the plan and it might not go perfectly, but you can’t go too far wrong.
· Fear of making it worse? Approach people with kindness and compassion, whatever the situation. You might make their day worse, or maybe a little longer than a day, but you can make a difficult situation better. Listen, be open, honest, neutral and direct (don't skirt round the issue), it will be both appreciated and respected. Trust me, it’s possible to end someone’s employment and to have them thank you for doing so (even I was a little surprised by that one, I must admit) – often the response you anticipate is not the one you get.
· Fear of repercussion? There are always consequences to our actions, positive or negative. Some people are minded a certain way and whatever you say or however you say it, you will get that appeal, grievance or tribunal claim. Don’t waste energy fearing repercussion, just treat people fairly and with kindness, then play the hand you’re dealt.
HR is about so much more than difficult conversations. It’s a value-add and key function of any business. It’s about getting your vision, values and culture right; attracting and retaining the right people in your business, having clearly communicated expectations in terms of behaviour and performance; development plans to support talent retention and succession planning, and taking positive action to support the wellbeing of your People - and so much more besides! If you get that right, you’ll find that those difficult conversations become very few and far between. And that is why I love being an Independent HR Consultant 😊
If you’re worried about how to approach a challenging situation or would like some assistance with formulating your wider HR strategy I would love to hear from you. Why not take up my current offer of a 30 minute FREE consultation/ advice call? Call me on 07903 841939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more 😊