Confronting and Dealing With Issues

Confronting IssuesWhen managing or coaching others, it can be an anxious time if you have to confront them with either a performance or a behaviour issue. But either you deal with it or it will deal with you. So here are the top ten tips to help you:

  1. Do your homework. Make sure you are well prepared and know why you are confronting this issue, plus what outcomes are possible in the circumstances. It is always better to avoid emotion and to consider the issue rationally before you say anything.
  2. Take a stand and stick to it. State your concern specifically and be laser clear. Express your concern in no more than 15 words: the more detail you give, the less chance they will understand your concern.
  3. Be sure to separate the issue or concern from the person – don’t personalise your comments: ‘My intention is to discuss and resolve the issue, not to attack you personally.’ Invite the other person to deal with the issue. Ask for his or her response: ‘How do you see this?’
  4. Assess whether the other person is taking it on board. Listen to the response or gauge the reaction, watch their eyes and observe their body language. If necessary, ask the person what his or her intention is, so that you can work out if the person is accepting or rejecting your invitation to discuss and resolve the issue.
  5. If the other person accepts the issue, you can then move on to discussing alternative solutions. Be sure to encourage the person to make suggestions to resolve the issue, instead of forcing the person to accept your solution(s).
  6. If the other person rejects or denies the issue, perhaps through blaming, avoiding or discounting it, stay on target and deal with the rejection or denial first. Dealing with and discussing emotions before attempting to discuss possible solutions means you are less likely to prolong any rejection.
  7. Ask the other person, ‘What specifically do you disagree with?’ If necessary, park the issue, with an agreement to deal with it at a specific date or time.
  8. If the other person still rejects or denies the issue, reiterate that your intention isn’t personal but is to invite the person to deal with the issue. Mirror back: ‘Let me see if I’ve got this right. You’re telling me that you take no responsibility for … (outcome/issue/situation)?’
  9. If there is full or partial acceptance, then discuss possible solutions to get the other person’s buy-in and talk about the impact and consequences of each. If there is no acceptance, then quickly end the meeting.
  10. Nail down the action step by step.  Agree on a plan of who is to do what by when and describe and consent to the follow-up details. Always remember to set up future review and discussion dates.

And finally, remember that as a coach or manager, you are a role model for others. So congratulate yourself on having tackled the situation!

Des Whitehorn is the Training Principal of Zee Associates (  She can be contacted on 01825 733621 or