Coaching Keys – Nailing Tough Conversations

Are leaders in your organization avoiding difficult conversations? Or going in unprepared and making things worse? Sharing constructive criticism or difficult news isn’t something that most business leaders look forward to, but it is a critical skill for those who want to drive performance and change.

One of the many topics FOCUS Training covers in our Coaching for Results module is the art of the critical conversation. Here are a few tips you can share with leaders in your organization:

Be Prepared

  • Clearly define the goal of your conversation. What is the specific outcome you need to achieve? Is there a behavior change you need to see? Be specific – you need to be able to plainly define this goal for the coachee. For example, asking someone to “improve their attitude” is too vague to encourage action. Instead, you might ask them to be more careful about using sarcasm in meetings.
  • Gather specific examples as evidence to support your desired outcome. Generalities like “you always…” or “a lot of people think…” will make it hard for a coachee to accept your feedback. Describe an incident where you witnessed the behavior you are trying to encourage or change.
  • Practice your key sentence. If you only were able to say one thing, what would it be? Be sure you are ready to deliver that statement with the appropriate wording and tone. Usually it is a good idea to lead with this key sentence rather than leaving them hanging. “Because of the incident this week we are going to be letting you go today. Let’s talk about your two options for exit plans.”

These and other best practices for preparing can make a tough conversation less intimidating and more constructive.

To learn more about this and other essential skills of business leadership, check out the Accelerate Institute by FOCUS Training