Jessica Donahue, PHR

Sep 9, 2021

6 stories

How to Navigate Difficult Employee Conversations at Work

We’ve all been told at some point in our careers that “feedback is a gift.” While that may be true, many leaders struggle with how to give their teams the gift of feedback in a way that will resonate and inspire.
Delivering this news is arguably the worst part of being a team leader. Eventually, the time will come when someone on your team isn’t pulling their weight, and you will be faced with a choice. You can choose to ignore it, compensate for it, work around it, and accept the toll it will take on the broader team’s morale, or you can opt to have the tough conversation.
It’s a scenario that all leaders experience at some point in their careers: one of your employees is not meeting expectations. You’ve given them feedback, put them on a performance improvement plan (PIP), and laid out what they need to do differently, but they’re just not making progress.
Your boss walks into your office, sits down, cocks his head to one said, and says, “Hey, can I give you some feedback?” How do you feel at that moment? What kind of emotional response does this question elicit for you? Most of us aren’t particularly looking forward to what comes next. On the contrary, most of us are probably bracing for impact.
I know plenty of people who think they’re ready to be promoted. The only problem? Their bosses disagree. I know this, not because their bosses told them so, but because their bosses haven’t promoted them yet. Actions speak louder than words, right?
Working for a failing company wears on you after a while, and I was no exception. It wasn’t exactly burnout that I was experiencing. I wasn’t plagued by exhaustion caused by excessive job-related stress. In fact, the job itself wasn’t a problem at all. I loved the work that I was doing. But, I was tired.
Jessica Donahue, PHR

Jessica Donahue, PHR

Fractional HR & People Ops for Startups & Early Stage Companies