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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

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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