One of the most common requests that we get from managers is “how can I learn to be better at delivering those really difficult performance or behaviour type conversations?”

You know the ones! The ones you dread. The ones you know will be uncomfortable and emotionally charged. The ones you would rather not do.

Top Tip No.1 is “Be clear on your Purpose”

It sounds obvious to be clear on your purpose. However it is surprising how many managers spend more time planning what they are going to say than planning what they want to achieve.

You should be absolutely clear on your aim and desired outcome from the session. You may not achieve 100% of your goal but you will almost certainly fail if none is set.

Let’s imagine you have a member of staff who regularly fails to keep commitments or complete activities within set time scales. There are a number of different outcomes you might wish to achieve ranging from an apology, an apology and a commitment to improve, a commitment to improve, an agreement to improve to a specified level etc etc.

Once you are clear on your purpose this will help you plan what you are going to say and how to approach the meeting.  (We’ll talk about this more in future tips)

If only there was a way…

If only there was a way of practicing these difficult conversations in a safe and supported environment which feels just like the real thing.

Well the good news is that Tim and I have developed a workshop using business actors that does just that. This is not painful ‘role play’. This is what we call ‘real play’ because the only person acting is the actor. The manager’s job is to manage a very real situation (that they have defined) however they wish.

Not role play, but real play…

It is definitely not Role Play as can be seen from these two testimonials. (Read more testimonials)

“When I was introduced to real play I thought it was going to be a boring role play exercise but I have to admit I was totally wrong! It was amazing how the actor made the real play a “real life” conversation! The real play gives you the opportunity to try different approaches and techniques for critical conversation and also allows to receive valuable feedback from the audience.”

“Real Play was an innovative way of helping us practice handling real life people management issues. The actress was brilliant and you quickly forgot it was role play!”

There is so much learning to be had from a ‘real play’ session – let us know if you have questions about how it could work for you!