One Tip Every Manager Should Know

Learn how to have candid conversations with employees

While I was talking to a client and discussing the performance appraisal process, I mentioned one of the downfalls was that many supervisors are hesitant to have candid conversations with employees and tell them the truth about their bad performance, not necessarily bad enough to fire them but bad enough to say “no raise.” He agreed that the ability to be candid is a key managerial skill.

While realizing there are many important skills out there, managers need to learn how to have candid conversations with their employees and here is one of the most important tips on accomplishing this task:

One Important Tip

Returning to my office I opened my mail to find a blog post on candid conversations. I liked the post but a single tip for candid conversations struck me as a key point. That tip is “Conclude with a promise.” As Keith Ferrazzi, the noted author and writer of this blog, said:

“At the end of every candid conversation, it should be clear what the next steps are. Restate briefly what you’re taking away from the conversation, and if there’s any action item on your plate, restate your commitment to act and, if appropriate, include a rough date for when you hope to pick up the conversation. This maintains the relationship momentum and affirms that the contents of the conversation were important enough to warrant follow-up.”

This is very important. This tip shows that what you are engaging in is not merely critique but an effort to improve.

Ferrazzi also offers nine other tips for handling candid conversations. In 10 Valuable Tips to Take the “Awkward” out of Workplace Honesty he offers some great advice on how you can be candid yet helpful and non-threatening. I suggest you read them.

By the way, for those of you who don’t know Ferrazzi, you should. His book Never Eat Alone is a wonderful roadmap on networking.

What’s Your “One Tip?”

Everyone will make at least one mistake in their professional career, most making several before obtaining tenure    and even then, mistakes will be made. What’s a tip that you’ve learned during your career that you feel is important for all managers to know?

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.

Reader Interactions


  1. Bob Dameron says

    One of my favorite tips – is to remember that “you cannot not communicate”…as a leader, everything you say and do (or don’t say and do) is scrutinized – so spend the time/energy to be consistent in word and deed and if you can’t (things do change) explain the shift – over and over again.


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