The 3 C’s of Difficult Conversations: Creativity, Compassion, Courage

How can you tell the truth about a situation without fearing rejection, or disagree with someone without causing offence?  We tell ourselves that these conversations are difficult because we don’t want to upset the other person.  In fact, the slightly sick feeling we get is less to do with them and more to do with our internal dialogue about what we think could happen. 

Our basic nature is to avoid potential unpleasantness.   Tough conversations in high-stakes situations can often put us into a “fight or flight” state where we’re likely to turn to silence or violence — to withdraw and avoid the conflict or lash out in a hostile way to defend ourselves. Neither way is healthy, and almost always makes the problem worse.

This is completely natural and part of the human experience!

If you have experienced this, then you can use your experience to create an effective approach to having the actual conversation.  It involves all aspects of you – your head, your heart and some gusty courage.. Difficult conversations


People often times do not have a thought-out strategy or plan.  In previous blogs, I have provided you with some useful steps to help you plan an effective approach and to manage your emotions so that they do not get the best of you. 

But even the best plans, strategy or practical steps can be useless if our emotions take over.

As human beings, we all are capable of being rational and logical.  We all experience emotions.  And we all have experienced times when we have gotten defensive, wanted to stand our ground or get away and feel safe.

We need to learn how to use ALL aspects of our human nature, and bring them together so that these aspects work together.  If not, one or more will dominate and one or more will be excluded.  This happens, for example, when our negative emotions are running so high we cannot ‘think straight’, and we forget to follow our wonderful strategy!

Another example is when we have the plan, mapped out our steps, have our emotions in check and we’re calm and focused, but then we just don’t have the courage to say what we really want to say!  We are too scared!

Let’s see how we can put all this together. 

With the worksheet for the Alive & Kicking 7 steps to challenging conversations sit down and complete each step, from #1 up to #5.  Use your head to find creative ways to think about the questions posed in each step.  What else can you think of?  And what else?

Your head is capable of finding solutions if you allow yourself to be curious, let yourself act as if you can find a workable solution, remove your limiting thoughts while you work through the 5 steps.


I have emphasised the need to view the situation – and the other person – from a neutral perspective.  That is, to check your emotions so that they do not take over your ability to be rational and logical.  I also mentioned the need to ensure you are wearing the appropriate ‘hat’ for the conversation.

All this is the domain of your head – use it to its full capacity for creativity and rational thought.

Now let’s get in to the actual conversation – this is what you really want, right?


One of the reasons we have a visceral reaction is our body’s self-protective mechanism.  This is our autonomic nervous system (ANS) at work, and when we want to take flight or stand our ground and fight our sympathetic branch of the ANS takes over automatically.  Our body’s ability to sense danger and mobilise us in to action is physically located in our gastrointestinal tract – more specifically, in our gut.

Have you ever heard the term ‘gutsy courage’? Or described someone as having ‘guts’ to take action?  What these phrases refer to is the neurological wiring of our gut, where there are up to 500 million neurons that communicate up the vagus nerve to the head, conveying important information like “danger! Need to take action!”

Flight or Fight is the domain of the GUT

When a difficult situation arises and we feel the urge to run (or fight), we can work with the signal we feel and get the gut to check in with the head and review the plan.  This is an example of aligning our head with our gut. Put in other terms, this is a way to check our initial nervous response received from the ANS with the facts of the situation – there is a logical, rational way to approach this situation.

When we check the facts, the nerves can settle, and the gut can then choose a different course of action.

When we check back in with the gut, after reaffirming we have a good plan and strategy, the gut can now find reason to have courage to move forward and face the conversation with confidence. 

We have a plan and can now access courage, because our fears have been allayed with our strategy.

The Ripple Effect – the role of the HEART

The vagus nerve runs right next to the heart, the seat of all our emotions.  It is also where we access what is truly important to us, what we value most in our lives.  It is not the head that tells us how we feel about someone, it is our heart.

If we really want to be successful in having difficult conversations, we need to involve the heart.  This is as simple as considering why it is important to us to have the conversation.  Why is it truly important to you to have this conversation with the other person?

To activate our courage, we simply need to be compassionate.  Compassion is activated within us when we extend our emotions to others, and when we act upon those feelings.  This is the heart and the gut working together.

It may seem easier in the short term to avoid bringing up a difficult issue or highlighting a problem with performance, but the long-term consequences are tremendous.    Avoidance can lead to full on disconnection and breakdown of trust.

And guess where trust exists in you?

You gotDifficult conversations it – the heart!  Without trust, we cannot access emotions with and for other people.  When we disconnect from our heart, then our head and gut take over.

If you want to be truly effective and find workable solutions, you must use your head – and your heart – AND your gut, together. 

Step 6

As you go through the worksheet, ensure your heart is at peace when you plan to have the actual conversation.  Set aside the thoughts your head is sharing, and take a breath to calm the butterflies in your belly.  And allow yourself to feel compassion in your heart. 

Then extend this compassion to the other person – you do not have to love this other person, but if you allow yourself to feel positive emotions toward them, you will be able to resolve just about anything with them.

When you feel a connection to the other person (heart), then get curious (head).  Ask yourself what don’t you know about their perspective, their point of view, how they see the situation.  Allow yourself to really wonder what is really important to them in this situation, as you still feel compassion in your heart.  When you identify the truly important stuff, your courage will surface.  You will not be able to NOT have the conversation now!

Try this, and see where your conversation takes you.

Step 7

The final step in having confidence and success with difficult situations is to review what you did.  What can you pat yourself on the back for?  What did you do really well?  What efforts did you make of which you are very proud?

What would you do the same? And what would you do differently?

Reflect on the strategy you have now developed to deal with what you once considered to be difficult.  These sorts of conversations may never be easy, but they do not have to cause stress and frustration.  With the 7 steps to challenging conversations you now have a great way to manage challenging human interactions with more confidence.

Time and Effort

Are you going to stumble and make mistakes now and then?  Yessiree!  You sure are!  And it is through the mistakes we make as we are applying the skills we learned that we get to be able to use these skills smoothly, unconsciously, and arrive at the desired destination.

We would love to hear your success stories and answer your questions on this topic.  Please contact us at:


How NOT to approach a difficult conversation

When faced with the prospect of having a difficult conversation, emotions run high and we look for reasons why it is such a challenging situation. 

We get frustrated, even angry, that we have to confront someone about their behaviour or the fact that they are doing something against the rules, or not following established procedures.  Why don’t they just do what they are supposed to do??

Then we seek to answer our own question – they are not doing the ‘right thing’ because

  • They are thick
  • They are rebellious
  • They want to make things difficult
  • They are unhappy
  • (…insert your own language here….)

No wonder people want to avoid dealing with it – the other person really should know better!! Difficult conversations

People regularly ask us how they can deal with difficult situations, and often times they really want to know how to catch the other person out so that the problem disappears or ‘someone else’ deals with it, anyone but you!

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying you are at fault (of course YOU know that, right?).  But you do have a role to play.

It is common for Fran and I to have someone describe a situation that is presenting as difficult, and to hear how much at fault the other person is.  We see how easily people get caught up in their own emotions and begin to view the situation through a narrow lens or filter.  This can have the effect of shining an unfavourable light on to ‘the other person.’ 

When we lay blame at the foot of another person, it complicates an already difficult situation.  And blaming limits our options to a successful resolution.

In a previous blog, I spoke about the costs to you, your organisation and others in the workplace is we avoid having a conversation about a difficult situation.

I also spoke about our 7 Steps to having Difficult Conversations:

            Step 1 – Decide to have the conversation

            Step 2 – Consider Root Causes

I now want to provide you with some practical tips to plan the conversation you have decided to have.  Again, I recommend using the worksheet of the Alive & Kicking 7 Steps to having Difficult Conversations to take notes as you watch this week’s video.

            Step 3 – Gather Details & Plan Logistics

            Step 4 – Decide What ‘Hat’ You Will Wear

            Step 5 – Plan the Conversation Flow / Process

This is in preparation for having the actual conversation.

Next I will address Steps 6 & 7

Step 6 – Have the Conversation

Step 7 – Review the Conversation

At this point, you have decided to have the conversation and have considered what possible causes there are to the situation.  Well done!

Step 3 – Gather Details & Plan Logistics

The next step to take is to gather relevant information and plan logistics. 

Who needs to be involved in this conversation?  It is highly recommended to check with your HR or Talent Management Team and ensure you are adhering to workplace policies and any statutory requirements.  Make a list of those people you feel need to be involved and have a discussion with them what role each one will play.  Remember to apply confidentiality and discretion where appropriate.

Anyone not on this list, by the way, should not be included in any discussions, formal or informal.  This will help to manage the situation effectively and will ensure you are acting professionally.

You also want to consider the best location and timing for this conversation.  Will you surprise the other person with an invitation to ‘step in to this office’?  Or will you consider what environment will be neutral and conducive for having an authentic conversation geared towards a positive outcome for all?

We simply love Stephen R Covey’s 7 Habits and recommend that you practice them in your planning and preparation. 

Begin with the end in mind – what do you want to have happen as a result of this conversation?  How do you want to feel?  How do you want the other person to feel?

Write this down – you will be surprised at the difference it makes to your approach.

Expect ‘human-ness’ to show up – yours and anyone else’s who will be involved.  Humans are emotional beings, whose ability to be rational and logical can be clouded by emotions running amok.

Consider what emotional reactions are likely – from you and others – and plan how to manage your emotions and support others to do the same.

Step 4 – Decide What ‘Hat’ You Will Wear

It is worth considering what ‘hat’ you will wear.  What do I mean by that?  In your role, you wear many ‘hats’ – the hat of a friend to some co-workers, the hat of a planner and scheduler (if you are in a manager’s role, you are scheduling others and planning for completion of work tasks), if you interact with customers, you wear a ‘customer service rep’ hat.

Make a list of all the different aspects of your work, and what ‘hat’ you need to wear for each.

Difficult conversationsNow think about what ‘hat’ you need to wear to have this conversation.  And how you will ensure the other person is clear what hat you are wearing.  If we are not sure of what hat we are wearing, it will be confusing to those we interact with.  And we are likely to confound the matter by playing different roles.

Next, it is time to clarify what the issue is all about.   I mentioned earlier that our experience is that most of the difficult conversations people face relate to behaviour;  this can be related to a performance matter, it could be some form of disobedience, or it could even relate to a cultural issue. 

Gaining clarity with what you are dealing will go a great distance in achieving a successful outcome.

By now you are establishing a context, and you are probably able to see that the ‘other person’ has other qualities and characteristic outside of this context. 

Step 5 – Plan the Conversation Flow / Process

You are also seeing that an effective strategy involves some brain power!

Describe how you will build and maintain rapport with those involved in the conversation – how can you start the conversation so that people are comfortable and not feeling trapped?  How will you maintain rapport?  If one or more of you are defensive, emotions will further distort perceptions and reduce the chances of reaching an amicable resolution.

Get creative in your thinking with this one – don’t limit yourself with your filters or negative thoughts about the other person.

You need to make sure you have evidence – or something that supports your conversation.   You want to be assured that what you are bringing to this conversation will help you adequately describe what is happening or what needs to change.  The more neutral that supporting evidence is, the more likely the other person will be able to accept it.

Points to consider when gathering and presenting support for your conversation include: what can be shared or disclosed? Is what you are presenting fact, or opinion, or both?

With Step 5,  there are a few factors to consider.

Even by sitting down and taking Steps 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 you are well and truly on the path to creating a practical plan. 

If you can spend 10-15 minutes on Steps 3, 4 & 5 you will notice how much more confidence you have about your ability to have a challenging conversation.  I hope you recognise you really do play an important role in the conversation!

Good luck!

Next, I will share with you the final steps to having difficult conversations with confidence and success…..

The information contained in this blog is sourced from our SAYING THE UNSAYABLE one day training course.

What’s Worse than a Difficult Conversation? Avoiding One.

Difficult conversations are sometimes a necessary part of interacting with people, whether that is in the work environment or outside of it. 

They are difficult because no one finds them pleasant, or enjoyable, and they raise a swag of negative emotions for all involved.  People avoid talking to those whose behaviour creates problems. We talk about them and not to them. We avoid having difficult conversations.

If we do try to talk directly with the person whose behaviour is of concern – often the conversation misses the mark and creates additional problems with the work relationship. 

This is a topic that we get asked about constantly – in our coaching work, in our consultation, and in the communication workshops we deliver.  In our experience, it usually boils down to the behaviour of one or more individuals.  This behaviour causes disruption and some pretty negative emotions.

People make the mistake of avoiding what is scary or challenging, choosing instead to ‘lay low’ or seek comfort from others who are just as uncomfortable and disagree with the behaviour that is causing the difficulty.

Consider what can happen if avoidance is the chosen course of action:Difficult conversations

  1. People stay stuck
  2. Frustration remains
  3. Complaints increase
  4. Einstein’s definition of insanity* applies
  5. Trust remains low or drops further
  6. Negative morale appears or increases
  7. Productivity drops
  8. Sick leave can increase
  9. Claims of bullying or harassment can arise
  10. Job satisfaction decreases
  11. Personal health suffers
  12. Mental health suffers
  13. Factions or cliques develop
  14. And most of all – the problem will CONTINUE. 

* when we do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

Because disagreement and conflict are part of human interaction we cannot avoid all that is  unpleasant.  We must learn how to successfully navigate these types of situations when they arise.

So what can you do?

You need a planned approach – the more difficult the conversation, the more detail your plan needs to include.  You must approach the conversation with care, consideration and the right mind frame.

This is not an easy, quick fix, nor is it complicated.  It requires some creative thinking on your part.  Can you set your current strategy aside?

There are 7 steps we recommend as part of our ‘Saying the Unsayable’ Workshop.  Let’s look at the first two steps to having a difficult conversation. 

If you want to get the most out of our tips, download the worksheet 7 steps to challenging conversations to take notes and jot down some of your own examples.

Step 1 – Decide to have the conversation

  • Determine why this is important to you, and why it is important to the other person.
  • Consider the impact of having this conversation, as well as
  • The impact of not having this conversation?

If you have been avoiding the conversation, get really clear that you have made a choice – the choice to do nothing and to hope that someone else will deal with it, or wish that it would just go away.

In these types of situations, we are always at choice – be aware that even if you don’t consider yourself to be making a choice, not choosing IS a choice.

If you are not going to have the conversation, stop talking about the topic.  Move on.  Let it go. Avoid speaking about the behaviour giving rise to the difficulty.

If you cannot do that, then return to step one….

Step 2 – Consider Root Causes

What is causing the situation to occur, in your opinion?  If the name and face of a particular person just sprang to mind, acknowledge the quick response you had.  And gather additional information.  Is there some element present in the workplace that affects the situation?

A couple of points to check here – ensure you are standing on ‘solid ground’, and not on your ‘soap box’ of personal values, opinion, or morals.  There needs to be a solid foundation on which the conversation is based – be that organisational values, agreed terms of workplace behaviour, established family agreements, or even job descriptions. 

If there are not documented ‘ground rules’, guidelines or established standards (and this is what is the source of your frustration!) perhaps that is the basis of the conversation – to find common areas of agreement, how we will work or live together. 

Write down and consider all that you are thinking of the situation (as well as what you think of the other person).

There is no denying there is a problem and that it is causing difficulty for you (and possibly others).  We recommend that you take in as much information as you can, including your thoughts, feelings and opinions, as well as those of others in the workplace. 

Consider the facts from a neutral perspective.  How would someone who is not part of your work team view the situation? The other person? You?

Once you have decided to have the conversation and now have a good amount of information as to the root causes, it is time to take Step 3 – Gather Details & Plan Logistics.

Download the worksheet and spend ten minutes on Steps 1 & 2.  This is a way for you to build your skills as well as your confidence to tackling those challenging conversations.

The information contained in this blog is sourced from our SAYING THE UNSAYABLE one day training course.

Befuddled Barbara is tired of saying the same thing over and over again!

Ask beth

Dear Beth,

I have to coach my staff as part of my role as a manager and I have been doing this for just over a year now. 

I am really tired of telling my staff what to do all the time.  I repeatedly have to remind them to follow our established procedures, and this is with my seasoned staff members! 

They know they are supposed to follow the rules and adhere to our workplace policies, but they continually take shortcuts and I have to keep telling them to follow each step of our procedures. 

I read your reply to Frustrated Felicity and I am trying to do as you suggested to her – I am trying to consider what other factors are contributing to their behaviour and there is no reason for them not to do what they have been told to do.  I am trying not to blame them and to stay ‘above the line’ with this, but I don’t know what to do.  What would you recommend?

Befuddled Barbara


Hi Barbara

Thank you for email and your question.  Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on staying above the line and seeking a positive solution to what you are experiencing.  Playing the blame game is a lose-lose approach, and will always result in a negative outcome.

Have you asked your staff why they are not following the established procedures?  You mention that you cannot see any reason, and I wonder if can they?  Even if they reply that the policy or procedure is nonsensical or irrational, there is a reason they are not adhering to what is being asked of them.  What comes to mind here is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits – seek to understand before being understood.  This is a good starting point – if your staff are not following the procedures because they are forgetting all the steps, then providing them with coaching to increase their ability to recall all the steps will demonstrate your support in helping them succeed with workplace requirements.  If it is a matter of insubordination, however, then we have a different conversation on our hands.

As you mentioned you need to remind ‘even your seasoned staff members’ – I am imagining it is not a matter of disobedience.  It is important to choose the most useful mindset– and I recommend adopting the perspective of honesty with integrity and compassion.  This is one of our guiding principles at Alive & Kicking.  Honesty means we speak to the matter at hand truthfully and fairly.  We seek out all the facts pertaining to a situation [not just the ones that support our point of view] and use our integrity to decide which to focus on.  Just because something is the truth doesn’t mean we need to focus on it, or even speak it. When we have compassion in our dealings with others, we consider them, their feelings, the impact on others, and we do so from a heartfelt space.  We feel concern for others and we demonstrate genuine understanding.

Here is an example of this principle in practice: “Today I would like to have a look at your performance with you.  There are some issues for us to discuss.  My role is to help you with our procedures, no matter where the starting point is – and work with you to follow every step.”  And depending on your coaching model, if applying a one-on-one approach this conversation is done on an individual basis in the appropriate coach setting.  If you are using a team coaching approach then ensure the area of focus applies to all who are being coached.  Avoid including those that do adhere to your workplace’s procedures in this discussion. 

The end result is a change in performance – following procedures.  Involve those being coached in brainstorming to decide where the starting point will be, as well as the best path forward to achieve the adherence of the established workplace procedures and policies.  This approach is recommended as it explains the role of the coach, and it does not use accusatory language.  It clearly sets expectations that improvement is necessary.  And when we come from a compassionate place we position ourselves as willing to help, and that the staff have a role to play in receiving that assistance.

It may be that the procedure conflicts with another procedure or workplace demand (such as time to complete a task – perhaps not enough time has been allocated).  It may be that your staff have found a way to improve the procedure and they have decided to change it ad hoc. Your approach to gathering information should reveal this, and the conversation will empower your staff to share their findings and suggestions, as well as enable you to reinforce the need to follow established procedures.  If you believe that your staff are doing the best they can given the information, skills and knowledge they have, you can begin to explore possible contributing factors from a useful point of view. Even if the information you gather leads to a change in the procedure, your people will need to understand the need to follow the established procedure until changes are implemented.

You mention that you coach as part of your role, and I am curious….. is there a formal approach or coaching model you are using? That is something I strongly recommend, so that staff have the assurance the coaching aspect of their work performance is based on sound principles and has a recognisable and repeatable process applied in a consistent manner to all your staff.  Without this, coaching may have blurred boundaries, and your staff will be confused as to which ‘hat’ you are wearing when being coached by you.  When you are wearing the ‘coach hat’ and not the ‘disciplinarian hat’, your people will respond to your questions about their behaviour with greater levels of trust and confidence.  You may need to ‘weave your coach hat’ and create your coach identity more clearly.

Your approach may need to be tweaked to suit your situation.  I hope this has provided you with some tasty ‘food for thought’ and that you can go back to your staff and find a workable solution suitable for all!



All advice given in here is general only and does not take into consideration individual workplace situations, contributing factors, or specific workplace policies and procedures.  We always recommend that you consult your organisations workplace coaching model and adhere to the guidelines particular to your business or organisation.

If you have a workplace coaching situation that you would like Beth to address (in this column or in private), write to




Frustrated Felicity shares her workplace coaching dilemma

Ask beth


Dear Beth – I am working with this team member and I just cannot get her to realise that it is her behaviour that is causing conflict with her colleagues. How can I make her realise this?

Frustrated Felicity

Dear Felicity

Thank you for your email and your question.  This is a situation that we encounter often in the workplace, and as I do not know the specifics of your workplace situation, I can respond to your question in general terms only.

When we are working with an individual who doesn’t recognise something about themselves, one of two things will be true, and it is our first step to discern which is the case –

 a. the person really cannot see.  This is called scotoma – a blind spot.

 b. the person does recognize this at a deep level and their ego is getting in the way.  It is highly likely that fear is at cause.

If ‘A’ is the case – all that will be needed is evidence.  And you must gather the evidence that illustrates the behaviour you wrote about.  Without evidence, this is only your opinion; it may also be the opinion of others, you are the one having the conversation with this staff member.  It is fine to have anecdotal evidence as long as you have a way to present it well.

Once you have the evidence you simply present the evidence in your coaching session, ensuring confidentiality is maintained and the environment is one of trust and support, applying an ‘Ask’ approach.  To maintain the relationship, avoid the ‘Tell’ approach.

If ‘B’ is the case, you still will need the evidence, but you may find that just addressing it with them in a coach setting may be what is needed to make the desired changes.

1. How do you know what you know?

First thing to do is to determine what is true – ensure you are not making an assumption.   What evidence do you have that supports the assertion that this staff member’s behaviour is causing conflict? In answering this question, you will begin the process of gathering factual, objective information.  Even when it comes to anecdotal information, ensure the facts are well represented.

When you are gathering evidence, you will need multiple samples.  One bit of evidence is generally not a convincing argument – it is still likely to be taken as opinion.  You must gather as many samples as possible.  You may need to present multiple examples for the person to see that he/she is not getting the results that are intended.

2. Observe from a neutral perspective

Next, it is important to ensure you have the most appropriate mindset when working with any of your staff members, particularly with those we label as ‘difficult’ or ‘problematic’.  If we think of them in negative terms, our brain is wired to look for proof of our beliefs and we can distort what we see and hear to suit what we think is correct.  If you can observe this staff member from a neutral perspective, you are ready for the next step.

3. Identify contributing factors

What factors are contributing to this situation?  Before we can isolate a single individual as the sole source of conflict in a Team, look at the culture, the demands of the workplace, the tools and resources available to staff.  Approaching the situation from an objective point of view will assist you to look at the whole picture.  What may be making it difficult for the person to ‘see’ what others notice?  Has this behaviour gone on unaddressed for some time?  If so, it is perfectly reasonable for the person to believe there is nothing wrong with how they behave.

4. Look for the good

Once you are certain you have analysed contributing factors to this situation, and have decided to focus on this person’s behaviour, identify all the good qualities of this staff member.  If you are looking at this person from neutral perspective, this should be a relatively easy and straightforward task.  If, however, your first reaction to this second step was something along the lines of, ‘What good qualities?? This person has NONE!’, then this is very telling. 

Everybody on your Team has good qualities, and even the star performers have areas that aren’t star quality.  To be effective in our workplace coaching efforts we need to be able to objectively identify the skills and knowledge of each individual member of the Team.

5. Identify the areas of improvement

Now comes the step you have been waiting for – identifying their areas of improvement.  It is important you remain objective in this process, and identify quantifiable skills, knowledge and areas of expertise/ experience.  In this list is bound to be the matter you wrote to me about – the lack of awareness that they are contributing to conflict in the workplace.

In order for a person to take action to change a behaviour, they need to have awareness of this behaviour. This may be the place to begin with your Team member – having a conversation about their level of awareness the impact their behaviour is having.

6. create a clear plan of action

Lastly, if you are able to have a conversation with this Team member such that they are able to acknowledge how their behaviour affects other Team members, they will need a clear plan of action to correct this behaviour.   This will require time and effort, and your support during this process if a vital component of achieving the desired change.  Avoid making the common mistake of raising the Team member’s awareness of ‘what they are doing wrong’, and then leaving it to them to make the necessary corrections!

In addition to knowing what they need to change, they also need to know how to make the necessary adjustments.  This will require your support (in terms of developing their ability to demonstrate the specific skill identified as lacking).  An effective workplace coach has a well-developed tool kit of activities to unleash the hidden talent that lays within this Team member.

If this person is unable to see their behaviour in the same way as the evidence demonstrates and they engage in blaming others, denying the accuracy of the evidence, making excuses, and so on, stay your ground.  Maintain your chosen mindset and continue to present the evidence, honestly with integrity and compassion. This may lead to the option of formal performance management.

With the right plan and the right mindset, you will be supporting this person to raise their level of awareness necessary to make the changes you seek, or to take the necessary steps the situation requires.  Either way, your efforts are focused on treating the person with integrity and compassion.




All advice given in here is general only and does not take into consideration individual workplace situations, contributing factors, or specific workplace policies and procedures.  We always recommend that you consult your organisations workplace coaching model and adhere to the guidelines particular to your business or organisation.

If you have a workplace coaching situation that you would like Beth to address (in this column or in private), write to



How to ensure that training is done right

In my last blog I wrote about what organisations can expect by way of return on their training investment  in terms of Training Transfer; it can be positive, negative or zero (neutral = no return).  In this blog I want to provide you with a highly effective approach to ensure a positive return on that investment – before the decision to send people to a training session is made.


Organisations want to see a healthy bottom line as a result of the hard work put in by all their staff, so training should be decided as a course of action only if training is the answer to whatever challenge you are facing.  And you need to ensure that training is done right.


Determine the need for training

Make sure the opportunity you are pursuing or the problem you are solving is a training issue.  Training Transfer will be zero or negative if it is not a training issue and you will have wasted valuable resources pursuing a solution to an existing situation. The problem may lay in a number of areas completely separate to training, so you need to determine where to focus your time and attention and money. 


What is required may relate to a process issue, or a systems issue, or perhaps be a matter for a performance management approach.  Ineffective communication may be all that is giving you grief.  The reason it appears your staff need training could relate to a support issue. Do a thorough needs and skills analysis to determine the real need for employee training and development.


Identify the requirements of the training

Once you are sure that there is a training need, then ask the following questions:

·       What do training participants need to be able to do? Be specific here.

·       Why do they need to do this? The answer should relate to their KPIs and required levels of productivity, or to ensure staff retention.

·       How will this be communicate prior to training, and to whom? By whom?

·       What is the support from management after training? The following areas must be addressed: workplace coaching, reinforcement of the newly acquired skills, knowledge &/or attitude, and an appropriate correction process. (More on this in part 3 of this blog series…..)


Identify the attributes of the training participants

In terms of their skill and knowledge levels, determine where they are now.  The only need for training is because their skill, knowledge &/or attitude is below the required/desired level for the job role they fulfil.  If there is no gap, there is no training need.  An approach other than training is the answer.


Training Program Design and Delivery

If there has been an identified training need, the gap will be closed by structuring the training sessions to achieve specific outcomes.


The Training Provider is responsible for closing the gap, and the best way to do this is for them to have a thorough understanding of the requirements of the business, the context of the training, and the point of view of the learner. 


Very specific and measureable outcomes must be identified and agreed to before the commitment is made to proceed with training.


Finally, the training environment must be conducive for learning for the learners – make sure your training provider approaches their training using adult learning principles, accelerated learning techniques, incorporating a range of learning styles to cater to the needs of your staff.  When the training environment is relaxed, dynamic, fun and engaging then true learning occurs!


If your business is unique, it requires a tailored approach

Your people are unique and individual, so training needs to cater to their needs to ensure that positive training transfer occurs.  Every activity in the training session must engage each and every learner.  If your training provider has the same approach to all their clients, you have invested in an off-the-shelf approach, a one-size-fits-all solution that does not recognise or honour the unique qualities of your business or your people.


Positive ROI

When all of the above items are addressed from your organisation’s perspective, then you can be assured of a positive return on your training investment – you will create a workplace that your staff will rave about and their productivity will increase dramatically!


In my next blog, I will look at the role management plays in relation to training.  This final installment of The Importance of Training Transfer examines the people in your business who are responsible for all of this.