Difficult Conversations at Christmas

A delegate on a ‘difficult conversations’ workshop recently asked me a question. They said they had a performance issue with one of their team members who was still in their probation period. The probation was due for review in February and it was touch and go whether a permanent offer would be made. The delegate wanted to know whether they should have the conversation now, just before Christmas, and potentially ruin that person’s festive season or leave it until the New Year.

Now being a trainer with a predominantly coaching style I of course answered with a question or two:

Question 1
Is this conversation and the feedback you need to give intended to help this person?

They said “Yes, because I want them to know what they are doing wrong and give them the chance to improve”.

Question 2
What makes you think you could ruin the person’s Christmas by trying to help them?

They said “Because they may get upset and then worry about their job and future security at a time when nobody needs that”.

Question 3
Seeing as you cannot know nor decide for them how they will feel is this maybe more about how you will feel if indeed they respond to the feedback badly?

They said “I see, well I hadn’t thought of it like that!”

In summary all the normal rules of giving feedback apply (please refer to earlier top tips). Just because it’s Christmas this alone should not be a excuse to delay a couple of weeks and potentially create additional problems for them and for you.
From Steve and Tim at The Reality Business may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a very merry Christmas / Holiday season and a happy New Year.