Say what you mean and mean what you say
Meeting with colleagues to tell them you are not happy with a serious “something” is amongst the most problematic. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of having the conversation – but not tackling significant performance issues will backfire in the long run. These 5 steps will not make it feel any easier but will ensure that you say what mean and mean what you say.
8 key steps to running the meeting
1 – Prepare:
- Know what you need to talk about – what are the facts, details, and timescales
- Know who you’re speaking with and if there may be any personal issues that will arise
- Know where to go for support – you may feel nervous and concerned if it’s your first time
- Know the logistics – the where, when and how long the meeting is expected to last
2 – Tackle the issue and say what it is:
We can become entangled up in fuzzy terms when running problematic meetings. Describe the purpose of the meeting in one sentence, be specific and outline a short agenda. Look the person in the eye, keep papers to a minimum and not across a desk.
3 – Allow some emotional response – it’s ok to empathise:
It’s the emotions that we can fear the most but remember your existing skills of listening, empathising and keeping control. Allow for emotion – find the balance between not disregarding but also at the same time allowing the emotion to overwhelm the meeting. If the person is too upset, then adjourn the meeting, leave the room to allow the person to compose themselves. Start back when the individual can do so but it is important to restart the meeting as soon as possible.
4 – Know some of the answers but also when you need to refer back:
Sometimes even with considerable preparation there is a question asked that we really don’t know the answer. Better to say that you do not know and that you will find out. Give a date when you will come back to them and stick to it.
5 – Silence will happen:
30 seconds can seem like a lifetime but some people need to reflect on what has been said and then respond. Let this happen and don’t try to fill the silence. You will know when it’s appropriate to continue the discussion.
6 – Support the reason for the meeting:
Prepare the answer to the question “what do you think of this?” and again be authentic in your response. Importantly, this meeting is about the colleague not you, so keep sharing your personal feelings to a minimum.
7 – Close the meeting:
Summarise and be specific about next steps.
8 – Follow up:
Mean what you say is important. Keep to the timetable as well as keeping an open door to the individuals concerned. It’s a time where the individual will have a range of feelings and concerns – this is the time to be available for chats and support.