• Michael Najar, Ph.D

Three Quick Tips for Dealing with Difficult Situations

As a new supervisor, you may not have the necessary experience to deal with difficult situations effectively. Many new supervisors handle difficult situations in one of two ways. They simply avoid an uncomfortable discussion and keep quiet; or they overreact to it and alienate their team.

Inexperienced supervisors will more than likely have to deal with employee issues that, if not handled appropriately, will escalate into something bigger. If you do not properly deal with a tough situation involving a team member regarding performance, behavior, or their attitude, it will likely lead to negative consequences. It can cause team resentment or lack of engagement which will ultimately hurt the performance of the team. You must be able to initiate timely conversations with your team to allow them to reach their potential. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Be Clear with your Intent

The ultimate goal of the conversation is to help your team be successful. You need to be genuine with your team during the conversation and demonstrate through your actions and words that this is important to you. Avoid metaphors and fast talk and refrain from making general comments because they will complicate difficult situations.

2. Actively Listen

Listen intently to ensure you understand what’s going on with each team member. Before a situation can be resolved, everyone involved must understand the root causes of a problem. Make sure to take the necessary time to allow for creativity as you work to solve the problem together. Sometimes, simply providing a genuine concern for an issue is all that is needed to start moving toward a solution.

3. Articulate the Overall Goal

As a new supervisor, it is vital to get your team working effectively together and to have each employee contributing all that they can. The team must work together to be as efficient as they can. Communicating goals which are precise and actionable can create a rally

point for your new team.

The best new supervisors are forthright and fair in their interactions with their team. This will never happen unless you are willing to have the difficult, but necessary conversations with your team.


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