Time to talk? 5 tips for having a constructive conversation with the boss

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Asking for a pay-rise, flexible working hours or a promotion is never easy and for some people, the thought of having that conversation is enough to make sure it NEVER happens. The following steps might not get you the perfect outcome immediately, but they should give you the confidence to stride down that corridor and give it your best shot.

1) What’s the objective? What is the action you want taken as a result of the conversation. Are you asking for a pay-rise? Are you telling your boss you’re leaving? Are you asking for greater responsibility? Whatever your burning issue is, make sure you’re really clear about what you think the outcome should be. There are loads of templates available online for this sort of thing and trying out your ideas on paper first is definitely worth doing.

http://www.goal-setting-guide.com

http://www.mindtools.com/

http://www.conflictresolutionacademy.com/

http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/effectivegoalsetting.html

2) Timing is everything. Do NOT demand a meeting when you’re upset or angry. Emotion is the enemy of constructive conversations. Sleep on it, then after 24 hours, arrange a meeting at a time that works for all parties. And that would be? Everyone’s ‘best time’ is different, but widespread generalisations indicate that Mondays and Fridays aren’t great days for meetings, and immediately after lunch isn’t brilliant either. So, if you’re sticking to general rules, we’re down to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in the AM.

3) Constructive – not confrontational. When having potentially difficult conversations, stick to the facts, explain how those facts make you feel and what you propose to do to resolve the issue. Remember, you’re having a conversation, you’re not making demands. Here are two examples:

I’ve out-performed my targets by 10% for the last couple of months [make sure this is true!], this makes me feel as though I’m really making a difference to the organization [how you feel about the fact] and I think I could contribute more. I enjoy being challenged, can we discuss the options and timing for me taking on greater responsibilities? [request for action]

We’re not getting any closer to those sales targets [make sure this is true!] no-matter how many hours we put in. This is getting really demoralizing I’m worried my staff are just going to just give up [how you feel about the fact]. Can we discuss the options for revising the end-of-month process or getting some extra resources [request for action]?

4) Stay focused.

The more difficult the conversation, the more easily distracted we all seem to become! If you start the meeting chatting about the weekend, the weather or sport – nip that ice-breaker in the bud after two minutes. If it helps to take some notes with you, do it.

5) Be flexible.

So, things didn’t go quite the way you wanted. Maybe you have just spent 10 minutes hearing about your boss’s best BBQ ribs recipe instead of discussing a pay-rise. Chalk it up to practice. The more you get into the habit of planning how you will discuss tricky topics, the more confident you’ll get. If nothing else, you’ve gleaned just how difficult it’s going to be to have ‘that’ conversation and maybe you’ve learnt a great way to get his or her attention next time! Ribs anyone?

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