Leadership
professional development

Management Training – How Do You Handle A Difficult Conversation?

Posted on August 6th, 2013

Inevitably you will find it necessary to have a tough conversation with one of your reports at some stage. Either because their performance has slipped for some reason or their attitude is not as positive as you expect.

 

There are two rules to keep in mind – First, you want the other person to speak first. Second, recognise that for feedback to be supportive, the person must be motivated to change their performance. This means you must find some good in what they are doing.

 

Here is a five step model for handling any difficult conversation:

 

 

  1. ASK back and confirm.

 

  1. LOOK for the good.

 

  1. EXPLAIN your concern.

 

  1. Suggest / ask for a SOLUTION.

 

  1. Summarise and AGREE.

 

 

In our management training programmes participants find it helpful to memorise the steps with the acronym ‘Ask-LESATM’. When you need to give feedback ‘Ask’ your virtual assistant ‘LESA’ for guidance. Here is an example of how you can apply the model:

 

  1. ASK back and confirm.

 

Ask: “Can I ask why your activity schedule been so late over the last two weeks?” Possible response: “Because I’ve been concentrating on increasing my accuracy and I haven’t had time.” Confirm: “So what you’re saying is that you haven’t had time because you’ve been too busy increasing your accuracy, is that right?”

 

  1. LOOK for the good.

 

Now look for the good in their performance or attitude and let them know you appreciate their efforts over that aspect. This is motivational and vital in making the feedback constructive. “I understand that you want to increase your accuracy and I think it’s great that you are concentrating on this area.”

 

  1. EXPLAIN your concern.

 

Here is where you let them know what you dislike or disagree with. “The thing is, I’m concerned that your activity schedule isn’t being given to Jane in enough time. She often finds you difficult to locate when a customer has called in with questions.”

 

  1. Suggest / ask for a SOLUTION.

 

“Well, what do you think you can do to get your schedule to Jane on time?” or: “Why not complete your activity schedule every Thursday afternoon in order to get it here for first thing on Monday. You can always call in for any last minute changes.”

 

  1. Summarise and AGREE.

 

Always summarise and agree any actions that have been decided. “So you will be completing them every Thursday and sending them back in time for Monday, can I have your OK on that?”

 

So next time you need to offer constructive support, remember to ‘Ask-LESATM’.

 

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‘Ask-LESA’ is a trademark of LDL.