Have a positive tone. – The meeting will be more productive if you approach it from a positive place rather than a negative. Even the hardest conversations can be approached in a positive manner and most of the time, this will help them go smoother.
Dive in, but have a soft introduction. – Explain what’s happening in soft, positive terms before providing negative feedback or getting to the really difficult part. But then go right into it after the soft intro, and be firm.
Check your emotions. – This one can be tough, but putting your emotions away until after the meeting will help you and the employee get through the discussion. You may have certain personal feelings about a situation one way or the other, and this isn’t the time to express those. Just stick to the facts and get through it.
Prepare for the meeting. – This one should go without saying, but make sure you’re really prepared for what’s about to take place. Review your words carefully before the actual meeting, and have prepared answers for anticipated questions. Know what will take place and how you’d like the meeting to go before it actually takes place. You might even want to practice with an HR rep or another trusted peer leader.
Keep it simple. –Make your words clear, concise and understandable, and keep the conversation simple and direct. Just stick to the facts and the facts alone.
End with an understanding of the meeting outcome. – Do be clear and answer all questions for the employee and make next steps clear. Explain the outcome and consequences from the meeting, and ensure the employee understands what those are before leaving the room.
Have a witness present. – In some cases, this will make sense and in others it won’t. If you’re unsure, consult your HR rep or general counsel as to how to proceed before having a difficult conversation. Depending on the meeting’s content and outcome, it may be best to have a witness to the conversation.
Put yourself in the employee’s shoes. – When crafting your message or thinking about how you’d like this to go, put yourself in the employee’s position. How would you like this news/feedback delivered? How would you still respect the person delivering it, and what would make you feel best about hearing it?
Take a deep breath. – Before going into the meeting, take a moment to center yourself and make sure you focus on the task at hand. It won’t be easy, but you can get through this and you’ve got this.
Keep it professional. – This meeting isn’t personal, it’s business. Use productive statements and if the employee reacts to you in a negative or accusatory tone, remember that it’s not personal and you shouldn’t react. Just get through the meeting with your planned intent. Then later in the day you can have a moment to yourself and shake it off.