Have to have a difficult conversation? Think CPR
To help hit the right target when you need to have a “difficult” conversation with an employee, think of the acronym “CPR.” The first time a problem comes up, talk about the Content, what just happened: “You drank too much at the luncheon, became inebriated, started talking too loud, made fun of our clients, and embarrassed the company.” The content of a problem typically deals with a single event.
The next time the problem occurs, talk Pattern, what has been happening over time. “This is the second time this has occurred. You agreed it wouldn’t happen again, and I’m concerned that I can’t count on you to keep a promise.” Pattern issues acknowledge that problems have histories and that histories make a difference.
As the problem continues, talk about Relationship, what’s happening to us. Relationship concerns are far bigger than either the content or the pattern. The issue is not that others have disappointed you repeatedly; it’s that the string of disappointments has caused you to lose trust in them. You doubt their competency, you don’t respect or trust their promises, and it’s affecting how you treat one another. “This is starting to put a strain on how we work together. I feel like I have to nag you to keep you in line, and I don’t like doing that. My fear is that I can’t trust you to keep the agreements you make.”
If your real concern is around the relationship and you discuss only the pattern of behavior, you’re likely to be dissatisfied with the outcome, and you’ll have the same conversation again later.
Michael Shapiro – Dynamic Management Solutions, Inc.