Stop Being Scared of Tough Conversations with this Employee Feedback Framework



We all know that having employees is hard. One of the hardest parts is having to address issues in the workplace. At some point there will be an issue at your company that you will need to resolve. This could be a disagreement between two employees or a performance issue.


It is important that you do not avoid the issue, or even delay your response. You must act quickly otherwise the issue will fester and get worse. Your goal should always be to help the employees overcome this obstacle. When this is your goal, and you act quickly, then most of the time the issue can be taken care of without someone needing to leave the company.

The hardest part about having to address issues with employees is the conversation. This is why I created the FUN Feedback Framework.


In the FUN Feedback Framework you use three easy steps to ensure you are saying and doing the right things during the conversation with the employee. I want you to review these steps before your discussion with the employee, but I do not want you to create a script to read off of. You should plan so you know your goals and review what you may expect from the employee. However, you want the process to guide you.


The FUN Feedback Framework


1. F is for Frame

Begin the session by framing the purpose of the session. It is important to be specific. Say things like “I want to discuss the report that was due yesterday, I have not received it yet.” Avoid things like “I want to talk about your time management skills.” Knowing the exact events you want to talk about will be helpful for the employee and lead to a more productive meeting. Using generalizations or your judgments of the employee are not helpful in ensuring a shared understanding of the problem and they often will offend the employee.


You will start the meeting by framing what will be discussed, but you also need to remember that throughout the meeting your job is to facilitate the conversation. You are here to make sure the conversation is always moving towards the goal. Think of yourself as the facilitator of the meeting.


2. U is for Understand

After you have framed the purpose of the meeting you then move to asking open ended questions to truly understand. You are looking to not only understand what happened, but why it happened. Ask questions like “This does not sound like you, what happened” or “how did the client call go?”


It is important to prepare for this step. It is likely that the employee will put the blame back on you. Sometimes this is just deflection that needs to be corrected. But other times it is the employee shedding the light on the real issue. For example, if the employee’s report was late then she might tell you that she had the draft ready on time but wanted to run something by you before submitting it. You may initially take offense to this statement. It is important for you to be able to quickly move through that emotion and objectively access if this is deflection.


The employee may be truly uncovering the underlying issue. This is a great step because it easily leads to the last step.


3. N is for Next Steps

Once you have heard the employee and have a solid understanding of the issue then you can move to the last step. Here you start by asking the employee for a suggestion. Say something like “how can we prevent this in the future?” You likely have many ideas on how to fix the issue or make an improvement. However, I want you to let the employee make the suggestion. Ideally there will be a suggestion that you both like and you can mutually agree to execute that suggestion.


Try this the next time you need to talk to an employee and let me know how it went.


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