Awkward Post Review Conversations? We Have Your Back

by Srikant Chellappa Jun 19,2020

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Post a performance review, conversations can get a little awkward. It is hard to see these conversations as being anything other than stressful. Often times, when you are the initiator of a difficult conversation, it makes you feel like the bad cop, especially when the person on the other side expresses a lot of emotions, either in the form of anger or tears.

But difficult conversations are a part and parcel of any workplace. There’s no way to avoid them. If you do, they might just blow up into bigger issues. So how can we deal with conversations like these? Especially since most of us are people who don’t feel comfortable being confrontational.

Here is how you can prep yourself for those awkward post performance review conversations.

Express it with new perspective:

Let’s face it. Difficult conversations cannot be always avoided. So we’ve got to prep ourselves for it. When you sense a potentially difficult conversation in the offing, you need to shun your negative mindset. Frame it in a more positive or constructive light. Look at it that something that needs to happen for the betterment of the employee, or to help them move on from a bad job fit.

Also read: Performance Review Phrases And Wordings

Hold your calm:

If you are all keyed-up before a difficult conversation, chances are the whole thing is jinxed from the start. Understand that the person on the other side is also keyed-up. Two stressed out individuals conducting a conversation that is high-stakes seems like a recipe for disaster. Instead of entering a conversation with your nerves on the edge, compose yourself. You being calm will help the conversation go a lot more smoothly.

Keep an open mind:

This means that when you know you have to have a difficult conversation, don’t prepare a speech before hand that you reel off once you enter the room and see the person in question. Instead, let the conversation flow naturally. Sometimes, you will find the reason behind poor performance is not a lack of talent, but rather it is some other issue that has  been affecting their work.

Be compassionate:

Talking to someone about a bad performance review, or a termination, is already a Herculean task. Remember that empathy and compassion are two important qualities, and they play an especially big role here. Listen to what the other person has to say and have an open mind. And if need be, also prepare to offer an ear to listen.

Also read: Don’t Do These 4 Things During A Performance Review

Think out of the box:

One way to resolve a difficult conversation successfully is to offer a solution to the problem. If you see problems with an employee’s work or behavior, point them out and then offer a solution that can help resolve that problem. Sometimes, the solution isn’t even to solve a problem. It maybe to help an employee with a few issues or just provide moral support.

Hopefully these tips will make difficult conversations a little easier for you. If you have some tips for navigating difficult conversations, share them with us in the comments section below!

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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