TIP 5: (Continued)
  1. Rehearse difficult conversations by enlisting a friend to roleplay. Anticipate the kind of questions the employee will ask--and practice your answers. Keep your responses succinct; don't ramble or editorialize.
  1. Begin by summarizing the facts-and then pause. Do not talk for more than three minutes without allowing the employee to chime in. Some nervous supervisors fall into the trap of overtalking-repeating themselves, giving too much irrelevant information-while the employee quietly seethes. That's a surefire recipe for disaster.
  1. When disciplining employees, seek their buy-in. At the end of the conversation, ask, "To what extent are you confident that you can raise your performance to acceptable standards by the time we meet again?" This puts the onus on the employee to predict what will happen next and commit to improvement.