What’s the best way to have difficult conversations with the person I employ?

It takes some bravery to address issues in any personal or professional relationship, even strong ones, but greater trust and ease await on the other side! Many of us tend to put off having important conversations when we need to raise a difficult topic, but this just creates more tension. 

Tip: It’s a good idea to set up times for regular check-ins during the course of a work relationship.

So how do you raise an issue that’s concerning you? How do you make a change in the daily routine or the terms of the job? 

Schedule the Conversation

Don’t try to sneak in a “quick” conversation about a difficult topic, especially during the often hectic transitions at the beginning or end of their day. If you’re worried about being late for work, you won’t be at your best; neither will your employee if they are worried about getting home to their own family. Be direct and respectful of the worker’s schedule when figuring out the best time for a conversation.

Say Something Like

“I’d like to have a conversation about an issue that has come up for me. I’d also be interested in hearing about any concerns or questions you have for me. What would be a good time for you to talk?”

Make it Comfortable

Let them know that you will pay for them to stay beyond their regular hours. Try to find a quiet time and place at the workplace to talk.

A Great Communication Strategy

Sandwich a critical comment between two positive comments. For example: “We feel lucky to have you working with us and I really appreciate how you [unique comment about their work ethic]. But a few times this month you’ve been late, which I know you haven’t intended, but it has caused me to [explain a challenge]. It’s really important to me that you’re here on time. Do you need flexibility in your schedule? I hope we can figure it out—we appreciate all the work you help us with.” 

Note that the contents of this guide are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Contact the Cannabis Workers Coalition for employee-side employment attorney referrals.

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