How to manage meeting with that "difficult" team member

  • Date posted: 18 Jan 2016
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So if you're a manager of staff within the recruitment sector you already know how easy it is for meetings to go badly wrong. You thought you were going in to address a simple issue but your "feedback" results in a full blow up resulting in frayed tempers, loss of motivation and a breakdown in your relationship with your staff member.

You also know that there are some people in your team that are more likely to take any sort of feedback or criticism constructively.

Instead of gingerly tiptoeing around your volatile employee or causing world war three to erupt there is a simply strategy that should ensure a melt-down is avoided.

During the Peak Performance Summit, Ron Friedman talked about the need for "psychological connection" and how managing this can prevent issues in the work environment - go head and read up on this - it's quite interesting. But if you wan the quick fix (because I know how time poor you Recruitment Bosses are!) then here is the easy summation in recruitment terms:

  • Every conversation operates on two channels - a "task channel" and a "relationship channel"
  • Occasionally the two get fused, which is when disagreements intensify and collaborations break down.
  • When your employee becomes emotional with you it's usually because they see your "criticism" as a slight or negative statement about your personal relationship with them
  • Your critique about their behaviour / performance / idea is converted from "I don't like your behaviour / performance / idea" to "I don't like you"
  • In order to communicate effectively and in a way that addresses the issue but doesn't lead to a negative encounter it's important that your "task channel" and "relationship channel" are not confused.
  • In fact you should reinforce your "relationship channel" BEFORE addressing your "task channel"

Friedman writes for the need to separate these two channels and precede any feedback first by using PEARLS:


"I really want to work on this with you."

"I bet we can figure this out together."


"I can feel your enthusiasm as you talk."

"I can hear your concern."


"You clearly put a lot of work into this."

"You invested in this, and it shows."


"I've always appreciated your creativity."

"There's no doubt you know a lot about this."


"This would be hard for anyone."

"Who wouldn't be worried about something like this?"


"I'd like to help you with this."

"I want to see you succeed."

So I know some of these statements might be cheesy, but I think you get the idea! The fact is they are effective and you are reaffirming your relationship with them so that your employee doesn't question your respect for them when you finally deliver your feedback. Let's face it - none of us wants to think that our boss doesn't like or appreciate us.

The end goal here is to ensure your team member if focused on the right area of your feedback, without loss of confidence and without inducing fear. Do this and your team member if far more likely to take on board what you say and you also avoid a melt down in the process.

If you've got a difficult meeting come up - try this. I'd love to hear your feedback.


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