Welcome to the latest Coaches Corner, where we feature questions and answers discussed during our “Meet the Career Coaches” panels at Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC) events. In today’s installment, our coaches answer a question asked during our WIRLC: On the Road | New York event. The question: “What are some practical tips you can offer around having difficult conversations?”

The coaches on the panel included:

The Meet the Career Coaches panel was moderated by Jasmine Bellamy, director, diversity and inclusion, Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

Our coaches’ answers to the question are as follows:

  • Erin McConlogue: “Try inserting an empathy comment first when [you] have something difficult that [you] need to say to someone. The comment should empathize with what we believe they’re feeling, or what we believe their core motive is, first. This is the most challenging part, because when we’re having these difficult conversations we usually are not happy, and our emotions get in the way.”
  • Renee Dole: “Make sure you’re thinking about the actual messaging and the intent. A great tool to use when doing this is the SBI thought process of giving feedback. Here you are thinking about what was the Situation, what was the Behavior, and what was the Impact. It’s a very, very simple framework, but it allows you to put some context around the actual messaging that you really need for feedback. Also, one of things I recommend to all my clients is that leadership isn’t one size fits all, and your people aren’t one size fits all for how they need to be led. So, start by having a conversation with each of your employees. Say, ‘We’re going through a period of time where I need to give you some constructive feedback. What’s the best time to do that? Should we walk and talk? Over coffee? At the end of the day because you need to go home and process that night and you don’t want to sit at your desk all day? What’s the best and most comfortable way for you to receive feedback?'”
  • Quendrida Whitmore: “I would say that [employees and their managers] should really help each other out when having difficult conversations. It really should be a two-way street. Employees need to be self-aware and self-reflective, and give their managers examples of a lot of things they would really like to work on ahead of time so that managers can be prepared and give their employees the feedback they really deserve.”

How do you give feedback or have difficult conversations with employees? Any tips, best practices or ideas you could share? We would love to hear from you! If so, please drop me a line at mcampanelli@napco.com.