The HR Advisor

Difficult Conversations

Have you noticed an employee who doesn’t seem to be acting like their usual self?  Whether it is an unreasonable or unusual response, a decline in work output or a withdrawal from social situations, these may be indicators of an underlying problem.

Recognising this changed behaviour is one thing.  What to do then is another.  Often we avoid raising these issues as the conversation may be hard, be outside what we feel is the ‘workplace’ or we are afraid we may say the wrong thing.  So where to start? 
And this is the key – no matter how awkward or uncomfortable this may be – you just need to start the conversation.  Starting a conversation can make a difference either now or later by opening the door and reducing any stigma associated with mental illnesses. 
And there are strategies that can be used to reduce (or at least minimise) any awkwardness.  The ‘Heads Up’ organisation has produced a very helpful document, which helps you prepare and conduct the conversation.  Advance preparation of thinking through your expectations, body language and further support options can assist you creating an open and trusting environment.  And you don’t need to have all the answers.  Just asking R U OK? and listening is a great place to start.

Topics: HR Advice