Difficult HR Conversations

Automation has made the life of the Human Resources department easy. But, there is one task that no HR can ever automate – Handling difficult conversations. If you ever had to choose between a simple life and a tough conversation, what would you go for? While you are picking one, let us tell you that an HR does not have any, ever.

This is Sparta!

Or maybe not. But, having tough conversations with employees surely feel like the battles you never wish to be a part of. These situations arise in the life of every HR professional, at least once. Let’s dwell on each of such cases that are likely to cross your paths in the HR career.

Not meeting the standards

dirty employee

Standards can be quite complicated as they belong both to professional aspects and humanitarian aspects. From how one speaks to how one smells, standards take a wide range of judgment. 

Usually, colleagues play the first communication role in such cases by letting them know that they need to take a bath. But, if they still do not listen, the HR needs to step in and let that employee know about how their condition or behavior is affecting the productivity of the rest of the office.

To address such issues, make sure that you are in a private space with that employee (Preferably with a mask). Comfort ensures a comfortable feedback response. Explain the situation subtly, and let them know that the conversation is happening not because of your opinion, but of the employee’s team itself.

Announcing not so happy news

HR manager

An HR is the SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for any change within a company and this is one of the worst responsibilities too. Mostly, people receive general notifications (like mandatory participation in yoga day session) through emails, which makes sharing the lousy news easy.

But, there are also a few updates which need personal or verbal interaction like change in the number of working days, mass reduction in increments, etc. While the HR person is only the communicator of the change, he/she ends up in the unwanted limelight.

To tackle such situations, make sure that a detailed explanation of the news is ready with you. After announcing, take exhaustive feedback from the employees and recheck the impact of the changes. Doing this will help your employees absorb the changes with a better heart, and not because of sheer dictatorship.

Addressing the spoiled brat

bad employee

In any team, the team leader or the manager lends out the feedback. But, when things go over the top, the responsibility to have the last talk falls on the HR’s shoulders. HR managers are the last mile before firing an employee.

In such cases, it is imperative to lead the feedback with data. When you sit down for the conversation, hand out prior instances where the employee under-performed or made repetitive mistakes. Show them the number of chances they got, and clearly state the changes they need to make if they want to stay. This way you not only communicate the feedback better but also provide clarity that may not have come through the manager.

Letting someone go

firing employee

Firing is a task that no professional willingly wants to take up. But, as an HR, it is mandatory to own up to that responsibility, and build a smooth exit process. Whether it is individual termination or a mass layoff, HR becomes the wall between the employee/s and the organization.

Being the communicator, you can make the process comfortable for them by empathizing with them. While you take on the paperwork for termination, make sure that the employees get enough time to go off comfortably. Do constant follow-ups on how they are performing in the notice period, help them find a better place if you can, and be their support system while they’re leaving. Mostly, how an employee is let off builds upon how they may review the company afterward.

Handling ethics outside policies

work discrimination

On one hand there are policies that define certain behavior, and on the other hand there are ethics that are ought to be followed in an office environment. While the major workforce knows the ethics of work-space, there will always be some who go beyond them for their sake. One such situation is the comparison between two equal status employees’ unequal salaries.

In situations like these, playing the role of an HR is not enough. You need to have a clear understanding on why this pay-gap even exists. Let it be experience, expertise, or simply the offer negotiation, if someone is performing the same as their colleague, they will feel underrated. However, most of the employees know better not to talk about such topics, as they usually end up putting the complaining employee in the bad light. But, if they do, take it up with your seniors on what would be the best solution. You cannot talk your way out of everything, you know!

The detective work

guilt at work

Where there are people, there will be unwanted instances. They may include theft, damage, or even vandalizing office property. The responsibility of finding out the culprit lands mostly on the HR manager. These situations require utter secrecy as they can quickly lead to mass disturbance hindering both productivity and the environment of your office.

While being the detective, ensure secrecy and subtleness in your investigations. Try not to let the news go out in public. If you have any suspects, talk to them only after collecting enough data on their part in the incident. And, before you sit down to have ‘The Talk’ with them, think of the repercussions of your decision, take the second opinion from the manager or other seniors. Finally, talk privately to the one who did it, explain the penalties, and, if possible, lend time to rectify the damages’ financial or collateral aspects.

You are neither the villain…

…Nor are you their friend, till it’s about work. Being an HR, you should know that all the conversations are strictly business-related and not personal. In the field of HR, caring about what others think can alter your productivity and decisions, especially in such situations. So, if any such case comes in front of you, handle it professionally, consult your senior if you have any doubts, and be confident in the steps you take.

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