One-on-Ones Templates
One-on-Ones

Difficult conversation preparation template

Prepare for a difficult conversation with a template and our expert tips.

Why difficult conversations matter

Every team will have bumps along the road to success, and sometimes this bump comes from a specific team member’s actions or attitude. That’s when it’s the manager’s role to address what is happening with that specific employee. Most of the time, it is not what you would call a “pleasant conversation” – you are addressing an issue that needs to be resolved. These are challenging conversations for every manager, and learning how to approach them is important. Not only does it prevent the behavior from affecting the team as a whole, but it also shows your leadership skills and willingness to support every team member!

A manager’s guide to difficult conversations

This one-on-one meeting template is a bit different than the others. It includes extra guidance on how to prepare for a difficult or sensitive conversation with an employee.

The template includes talking points to structure the conversation in a way that will ensure a positive outcome. And next to the talking points, you’ll see tips from our management experts on what to do before, during, and after your meeting. These tips will be visible to only you so that you can open them up as you prepare and during your conversation for extra guidance! 

Examples of difficult conversations with employees

Employees are not perfect, but that doesn’t mean they are “difficult.” Everyone makes mistakes or has bad days, so it’s important to know what sets the distinction.

Here are some examples of when you could use this template to have a difficult discussion with an employee:

  • They are consistently late to meetings that require their participation.

  • They are underperforming – the quality of their work is not what it used to be, or they miss deadlines.

  • They are being inappropriate with their teammates or upper management.

  • They are engaging in deceitful behavior with teammates or clients.

  • They are in conflict with other teammates and are unable to resolve the issue.

Additional resources

Tactics for managers to deal with a difficult employee

A 5-step framework for tackling difficult conversations at work

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