Managers rarely experience a shortage of employee complaints. However, many managers seek advice on how to handle those complaints. Often times, if not handled correctly, these discussions can get heated.
How can managers keep these conversations from turning into an argument? Try these four tips to keep the discussion cool:
1. Let the employee vent
It helps if managers show empathy by saying something like, “I’d be upset too if I was dealing with this” or “I get why you’re frustrated about the situation.” But it is important to not take the employee’s anger personally. They are just venting. It is also important to not interrupt the employee while he or she is venting.
2. Repeat after me
Once he or she is done speaking, the manager should paraphrase and repeat back what they think they heard. Example: “If I heard you correctly, the problem is X and you need Y done about it.” This prevents miscommunication and lets the employee know that the manager is really listening to them.
3. Be real
The supervisor should ask the employee what kind of resolution they would like in the meantime. It may be an easy fix that satisfies them for the time being, such as getting another department “off their backs” on a group project. However, if managers can’t can’t facilitate the request, the boss should explain why.
4. If necessary, end it
There are always a few folks who won’t calm down and act rationally. The manager can respond with something like this: “I can’t continue talking if you won’t calm down. Maybe we can discuss this later.” If that doesn’t do the trick, the supervisor needs to end it then and there – a good tactic is to stand up, which normally indicates a conversation is ending. If that doesn’t work, sometimes the manager simply needs to leave the room.