How to Have Tricky Conversations With Your Team

By November 28, 2018Life Hacks

We’ve all been there. Needing to bring up something with a member of staff or colleague but feeling awkward and uncomfortable? Sometimes it has to be done – we have to have those difficult conversations otherwise our work or in some cases, even our happiness or mental health can suffer.

Whether it’s bringing up behavior that is having a negative impact on the team or discussing a task that wasn’t completed to a high enough standard – let’s be real, no one enjoys those tricky conversations. But, there are ways to make these moments easier and a better likelihood of ending on more of a positive note. But, be forewarned, there are also ways to make them much worse than they need to be…

Take a look at our tips to help you out with the next tricky conversation you have to have with your team.


What to do:

Take proactive action

As soon as you spot an ongoing problem or an issue that needs to be resolved, arrange an in-person meeting to discuss things. This helps you deal with the problem before it get worse – and will reduce the chances of you having to have an even more uncomfortable conversation at a later date. Remember, if you ignore the issue, it will only get bigger and bigger. Nip it in the bud, early on to course correct and get things back on track for both of you.

Sandwich the bad news

If you need to share some negative feedback, sandwich it in between two pieces of positive feedback. Unless things have gotten SERIOUSLY bad, there must be something that this particular team member or group of people have done well, recently. Mention it to ease in to the constructive criticism a little easier.

This means they’re less likely to be defensive and will see that you value them. This in turn, helps keep morale up. We call this the “Bad News Burger” approach… or another name, if you’re nasty, Janet.

Keep it constructive

If you’re offering negative feedback, you need to also make suggestions as to how things could be improved. You could even ask them for suggestions – perhaps there’s a underlying reason for a particular problem that you’re not aware of and they haven’t been able to ask for help.

What not to do:

Pretend that everything is fine

Yes, we all hope that things will get better on their own or that we can just ride out the problem. Chances are, things will get a lot worse so you might as well deal with it now.

Be passive aggressive and hope they get the hint

Nope. No good can come out of this. Ever. It doesn’t work in relationships and it definitely doesn’t work in the office.

Share too much during after work drinks

Avoid talking to other team members about your colleague or member of staff.  There might be exceptions to this rule for example, if you need to get more information (which you can do in much more professional ways than over drinks). However, you risk creating a negative atmosphere if you share things with people unnecessarily. Even if you have a small team of 5 co-workers or less, remember the basic principles of Human Resources is to keep confidential employee information confidential, always.

Public shaming

Unless you want to build a reputation as a terrible manager or colleague, this is one to avoid. It brings down morale amongst the whole team, it’s upsetting and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get positive results. Certainly not in the long term. Rehiring and training up new people is expensive and takes up valuable time. Save everyone the hassle and treat your team right.


Bottomline, bite the bullet and have the conversation. Do it today. A moment of awkwardness now will save you a world of hurt later. Plus, your team will respect you more if you handle the conflict now rather than let the situation fester and affect their work and the company culture, as well.

You can do it. I believe in you!



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