Each example in the book can easily be tailored to a specific situation to give the manager guidance. This advice can be turned into talking points that the manager can use to prepare for various scenarios and practice difficult conversations before discussing an issue with an employee. The talking points that Falcone provides also create an outline to share with legal counsel and human resources prior to delivery to the employee.
As I read the book, I found myself creating my own internal dialogue for discussions that I need to have. I also found myself thinking about past discussions I’ve had in similar situations; some were handled well, while in other cases, I could have handled them better. This book opened my mind to recognizing my blind spots and reminded me to communicate fully with kindness and compassion, seeking first to understand the other person’s perspective.
Falcone continually highlights that it’s the manager’s responsibility to have these often-difficult conversations, and the goal should be to obtain commitment from the employee on next steps, as well as agreement on a resolution if possible. That said, it’s the employee’s responsibility to fix the issue, and getting the employee to take responsibility for mistakes and commit to fixing the problem is critical. For example, managers can seek agreement by asking, “Does that sound fair?” or “Are my assumptions accurate?” or “Can I count on you to fix this, so we don’t have to have this conversation again?”
When managers encounter a situation that demands attention, they can open this book to find a similar example and prepare themselves for the discussion. The book reminds us managers that we’re employees as well, and through self-reflection, we can ask ourselves if we behave in a manner that could place us on the receiving end of one of these conversations. Thus, it helps us to continue to strive not only to lead by example, but also to lead in a manner that makes our manager’s and direct reports’ lives easier.