There are few trickier tasks than explaining to an employee what they’re doing wrong… In the interests of avoiding conflict that could prove long-lasting, here are a few tips on how best to get things out in the open. Firmly, but without losing your cool or causing offence!

They’re frequently late, quite uncooperative, blatant and below par… In short, the behaviour of a member of your team leaves a lot to be desired. It’s time to bring them into line. But to encourage them to change their behaviour, it’s best to avoid a confrontational attitude, as an angry tone will only distract attention away from the real issues. Here are a few tips:

> Avoid the ostrich mentality. Admittedly, it’s tempting to keep putting off a tricky conversation… But it’s best to resolve the problem as early as possible, or risk seeing the situation deteriorate and the resentment grow further.

> Find the right moment to talk to them. A rapid reaction does not necessarily mean a hot-headed one… While certain misdemeanours may require an immediate response (to save face in front of your team), it’s often preferable to hold fire and reflect on the most opportune moment to speak to the employee concerned. If they’re just about to go and collect their kids from school, they’re obviously not going to be very receptive!

> Prepare for the discussion. In order to stay calm and be sure of getting your point across, first clarify your ideas (the things you’re unhappy with, the consequences of their behaviour, the attitude you expect from them, etc.).

> Avoid being accusative. So as not to create barriers or hurt feelings, be careful to clearly distinguish between the person and their actions. In other words, your comments and criticisms should be based on concrete facts rather than on value judgments.

> Find solutions together. Rather than focusing on what’s going wrong, it’s better to consider what needs to be done to make things go more smoothly… Ask the employee what they intend to do in order to change. If you find their response insufficient or inappropriate, immediately invite them to find other solutions.

Lastly, there’s one final good reason not to bang your fist on the table: don’t forget that the meeting’s aim is not to see the worker exit your office overwhelmed and irritated, but re-motivated and ready to implement the changes agreed!