Employee Communication: The 6-Step Framework To Handle Difficult Conversations With Your Hospitality Team
Employee communication is key in hospitality. It’s necessary to keep staff members on the same page as you to ensure your reputation as a business is upheld.
Unfortunately, effective employee communication isn’t always easy to achieve. 86% of employees cite poor communication as one of the core causes of workplace failures. One of the primary challenges managers and business owners face, is figuring out how to handle complex conversations with their staff members. In every business, issues can arise which require a difficult discussion.
You may need to address a dip in performance with an otherwise stellar employee or discuss emotional issues like burnout and lack of engagement.
While conversations such as these can be challenging for every party involved, they’re fundamental to ensuring your employees can continue to deliver and thrive in their roles.
So, how do you handle complex conversations correctly?
Step 1: Gather the Right Information
For any employee communication discussion, preparation is essential. The more information you have, the more likely it is you’ll be able to achieve a mutual understanding.
For instance, if you need to speak to a staff member about problems with their performance, telling them they seem “distracted” at work might not drive the right results. Most staff members will act defensively when presented with negative feedback and may attempt to argue that their perceptions are incorrect.
However, if you approach your employee with evidence such as receiving negative feedback from customers, or not undertaking basic health and safety correctly, they will be much more likely to listen.
Having more specific information on hand will also facilitate a deeper discussion about what’s actually going wrong. For instance, you may have a chef who is delivering the same quality of meals, but not consistently, which could indicate an impending risk of burnout.
Step 2: Set the Stage for a Valuable Discussion
The right setting and plan can make a huge difference to the outcomes of a complex conversation. For instance, when discussing difficult topics, most employees will want a private setting, which allows them to keep the situation confidential. Nobody wants to be called out in front of their colleagues and peers.
Choosing an area away from others which feels comfortable and open can be helpful. An employee shouldn’t feel like they’re being interrogated. This can lead to a very one-sided conversation, where your team member immediately begins acting defensively.
Schedule a meeting with your hospitality staff member at a time suitable for both of you. Allow time to have a detailed conversation. It may also be worth letting your staff member know exactly what you’re going to be talking about in advance, so they can come prepared.
For example, instead of saying “We need to discuss your lack of motivation”, you can say, “I feel like recently you haven’t been as engaged as usual, I’d like to have a chat to talk through this and how I can help you.”
Step 3: Put Facts Before Feelings
Employee communication can easily become emotional. However, allowing emotions to run rampant can lead to arguments between staff, rather than valuable conversations. With this in mind, it’s important for you to show your leadership skills, and take an objective, logical approach.
Using the facts you’ve gathered, start thinking about how you can structure your conversation to put logic first. Introduce all of the key issues you want to address at the beginning of the conversation, with evidence and proof for validation.
Don’t tell your employee how disappointed you are, and avoid using “I feel” statements. Instead, remain as calm and objective as possible. Instead of saying “I feel your performance is slipping”. Say, “Based on customer reviews and staff feedback, you can see your performance is slipping. Is there any reason for this and is there anything i can help you with?”
Step 4: Stay Positive
Although it’s valuable to maintain an objective and logical viewpoint when approaching a complex discussion with one of your hospitality team members, it’s also helpful to maintain a positive outlook. The aim isn’t to berate or upset, but to start working together on a solution for the problem you’ve discovered.
Your staff members will be far more inclined to work with you on resolving the issue if they feel as though you’re approaching it with a positive mindset. Rather than just accusing your employee ask them why they think the issue has happened.
Use this feedback to offer advice on how they can make positive changes. For instance, if an employee feels overwhelmed by too much work, you could suggest different scheduling strategies, or ask them whether they’ve considered delegating some of their tasks.
Step 5: Listen to Your Employee
A conversation is a two-way experience. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of simply speaking “to” your employee, rather than speaking with them. Even if you have proof to back up the complaint you’re making, it’s important to remember you may not have the whole story. The only way to effectively resolve a problem is to ask relevant questions and listen to the answer.
Rather than trying to “win” the conversation and prove your employee has done something wrong aim for mutual understanding. By the end of the discussion, your employee should understand they’re not adhering to your expectations, and you should have a better knowledge of why their performance is slipping.
After you’ve presented the facts, give your hospitality team member a chance to share their perspective.
This will pave the way for a better conversation, where you can start discussing potential solutions as a team. This strategy will improve your chances of resolving issues but and lead to better individual employee relationships.
Step 6: Follow Up
Finally, just because a complex conversation comes to an end, doesn’t mean your work is completely done. The purpose of any difficult conversation should always be to inspire positive action, changed behaviour, and results.
Whatever you’re discussing, you should always end the discussion with a plan of what to do next. Come up with a strategy and then follow up to see whether the resolution is working.
Checking in, will ensure you don’t lose track of the issue and allow it to snowball. It also means you can work together to come up with alternative solutions if your initial strategy doesn’t work out.
Difficult Employee Conversations are Common
In any hospitality business, there’s a good chance you will have to deal with difficult conversations at some point. Performance issues can arise anywhere, and burnout can cause significant problems for employees. Being able to discuss complex, emotional, and negative topics effectively are crucial to get the most out of your team.
It always helps to hire the right people to begin with. Focus on finding candidates who share your open communication style. Working with a specialist catering and hospitality recruitment company could make conversations with your hospitality staff a lot easier.
Can we help you? Here at KSB Hospitality and Catering Recruitment Agency, we have been helping hospitality and catering businesses for over 30 years. If you would like to find out how we help our clients recruit call us on 0121 314 9365 or click the link below.