As a leader, you probably already know that good communication is important when it comes to handling sensitive matters. But if you didn’t, here’s a quick primer on how to communicate clearly when you are hiring new employees, firing current ones, and working through those sticky situations that have a habit of popping up when you least expect them.
When you’re interviewing candidates, place yourself in their shoes temporarily, and look at things from their point of view. They’re nervous, while at the same time, trying to present the best form of themselves in the hopes of getting hired. Your communicative process needs to simultaneously put them at ease while representing the company at the same time. You don’t want to be too laid back and non-authoritative, nor do you want to intimidate the person in front of you. Phrase your questions accurately, and project a balanced professionalism.
This is when communication is very important. Be firm, but don’t be a jerk. You need the person to know why you’re firing them, but you don’t want to say something that could reflect badly on your company. Instead, state everything as clearly as possible – with an emphasis on what the employee did wrong. Saying specific things like “you did …” and “you didn’t do …” will make it very clear where the lines are. It also helps if you can back things up with examples and statements from witnesses. By the time the firing process is over, you need your now-former employee to know exactly where things went wrong. Hopefully they can learn from their mistakes and do better at their next job.
Sticky situations can develop when you least expect them. Things that fall into this category include harassment issues, general employee complaints, and numerous other concerns. When communicating on them, you need to do two important things – listen and ask as many questions as possible. Speak as clearly as you can, project confidence, and do not accuse the complaining employee of anything. It’s your job to gather all information first before working on the solution.
Remember that communication is key in all relationships, the more we understand how to clearly communicate, the more effective leaders we will be.