What if difficult conversations were easier?


Have you recently had a challenging discussion with a team member?

I get it. 

As someone who avoids conflict whenever possible, handling these conversations has always been a part of leading a team that made me uneasy.

Back when I was climbing the leadership ranks in a PR agency, my boss encouraged me to take a course titled "How to Deal with Difficult People," complete with a wire-bound book sporting a bright pink cover. The workshop facilitator jokingly suggested that simply keeping this book on your desk was enough to handle any situation.

If only leading your agency was that easy, right?

Navigating difficult conversations is an essential part of your leadership journey. 

As a boutique creative agency owner, you're not just a leader; you're also a mentor, collaborator, and sometimes, the bearer of tough news or feedback. 

In the world of creativity, where emotions run high and passion fuels the work, having difficult conversations with team members is inevitable. 

Whether it's addressing performance issues, navigating conflicts, or delivering constructive feedback, mastering the art of these conversations is essential for fostering a healthy workplace and driving your agency’s growth and evolution.  

Here are some key strategies my clients use to help navigate those challenging discussions with grace and effectiveness:

Prepare with Purpose: Before the conversation, clarify its purpose, gather relevant facts, and anticipate reactions. A clear agenda and desired outcome keep the discussion focused and productive.

Create a Safe Space: Establish an open and supportive environment. Choose a private setting for uninterrupted conversation. Express commitment to growth and well-being, encouraging sharing perspectives.

Focus on Behavior, Not Personality: Address performance issues by focusing on specific behaviors rather than personality. Be objective, provide concrete examples, and depersonalize feedback to focus on actionable steps for improvement.

Practice Active Listening: Pay close attention to responses, validate feelings, and ask clarifying questions for mutual understanding. Show empathy and genuine interest in their perspective, fostering trust and open communication.

Offer Constructive Feedback: Provide feedback constructively and empathetically, balancing praise with areas for improvement. Be specific about strengths and growth areas, offering actionable suggestions for enhancement. Frame feedback as a learning opportunity rather than criticism.

Collaborate on Solutions: Involve them in problem-solving. Encourage brainstorming and develop an action plan together. Empower them to own their growth for accountability and motivation.

Follow Up and Support: Regularly check progress, offer support, and celebrate achievements. Reiterate commitment to success and ongoing support.

My friend, difficult conversations are an inevitable aspect of your leadership, but with the right approach, they can become opportunities for growth and development for everyone involved. 

You’ve got this, and more!

If you want a better approach to difficult conversations let’s talk. Book a free Clarity Call and let’s make that happen.