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Blog - Having Difficult Conversations - Why we need a mix of learning methods by Tracy Powley

Having Difficult Conversations - Why we need a mix of learning methods by Tracy Powley

Posted by Tracy Powley 06/05/14

A recent survey by PwC and London Business school shows that Millenials in particular, respond well to learning delivered online and this was a topic highlighted at last week’s CIPD  L and D conference.

But PwC also talked about managers not being very good at giving feedback to their people and struggling to have “difficult conversations” when performance is not coming up to scratch (something we see on a regular basis in our work with clients)

And these are the very skills which really can’t be developed through online methods.

There are a number of things which stop managers from having “difficult conversations”, but there are two key factors which crop up time and again;
• the fear of upsetting the working relationship
• not knowing how to start the conversation

To overcome this fear, managers need to be able to discuss scenarios, talk about the impact of not dealing with an issue and hear from other managers who feel the same, so that they know they are not alone.

To help managers develop confidence to hold a difficult conversation, they need guidance on how to open the discussion and manage it to a successful conclusion and critically they need to have a chance to practise. Identifying what you should say and reading tips on what you should do are one thing, but getting the right words to actually come out of your mouth – especially when you are feeling a bit apprehensive - is quite another! Practising these skills in small groups in a “safe” environment is what makes the difference to that confidence.

Online learning has a raft of benefits, but building confidence with key skills like mastering difficult conversations still needs a face to face approach. 


Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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