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Norm Bilsbury, Ph.D. | Champaign, IL


It’s that time of year when the realization begins to settle in that we probably need to have a challenging conversation with a difficult employee. We either hoped this person would improve and hasn’t, or we chose to put off a needed conversation out of sheer avoidance.

If you find you are thinking or feeling any of the below, a difficult dialogue might be in order. Are you:

  • Concerned by a reoccurring inappropriate behavioral pattern?
  • Troubled by a rigid attitude which suggests “I don’t need to change or grow”?
  • Uneasy that someone isn’t looking to accept what it takes to succeed in their role?

Depending upon your own management and leadership style, these conversations are easier for some of us than others. For those of you who are extroverted and “thinkers”, these conversations can be easy. For those of you who are introverted and “feelers”, they can be more stressful.

Whether the employee is a recent hire, a long time employee, or hired by a previous leader, each employee demographic can have its own challenges.

What we often fail to realize is that the problem, which is now manifesting to us as a “sour” fruit through someone’s outward behavior, is that we might have actually permitted those seeds to germinate by unintentionally not executing on 3 important management activities. These activities include addressing the following aspects of your organization:

  • Culture
  • Contracting
  • Coaching

If we make it a point to address the C’s above and reinforce them at the proper times in our onboarding processes, the difficult conversations will be less intense, occur less frequently, and managed proactively. To learn more, watch this short video on these three critical leadership activities. 

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