How to Handle Difficult Conversations with Your Finance Team

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Difficult conversations – no-one looks forward to them.  

They are something we probably all would rather not have to deal with. But any conflict in the workplace requires understanding and proper management to prevent it from becoming worse.  

It is part of a senior finance professional’s job to ensure that difficult conversations are handled with competence to ensure that the individual learns from the experience and takes away some insights into their behaviour, as well as feeling supported by their manager through the process rather than just being ‘told off.  

Avoiding having an awkward conversation, be it with a co-worker, employee in your team or other member of staff may seem like the more comfortable option at the time, but left unaddressed it can escalate into a significant barrier that will affect the whole team.   

So, it’s best to meet it headon and have that conversation early.   

Difficult conversations can take many forms – from letting your Purchase Ledger know they are not getting the promotion or salary increase they had hoped for, to disciplinary meeting or even firing an individual.  

It’s never easy, but it is necessary; so, it’s crucial that a difficult conversation should be as productive and painless as you can make it.  


Plan What You Want to Say  

Don’t be tempted to have a ‘quick conversation’ with someone just because you’ve seen them coming up the hallway or across the office. A difficult conversation should be handled in private and after you have had time to prepare exactly what you want to say.  

Thinking through your planned conversation and the points you need to address will allow you to get your key points in order with specific examples. It will also enable you to think about how the recipient will respond and how you will deal with questions they may have.  

Additionally, planning your conversion will enable you to deliver it in a more calm and organised manner.  


Choose Your Words Carefully  

As well as planning the points you want to make, it’s advisable to think about the actual words you use to deliver your comments. Your choice of words does matter and can make all the difference in how your observations are received.  

So, if you need to reprimand one of your accountants for their poor team performance you could explain how it affects everyone else in the team by holding up the figures they need for that month; and how that then impacts on productivity across the business. Explain how the individual playing a more collaborative role would ensure that procedures were timely, creating more positivity across the finance team and creating stronger bonds.  

Creating a favourablscenario as the outcome for change provides psychological safety for the individual and will enable them to see a goal they can work towards and help them understand the point of the conversation is to achieve a way forward. 


Be Direct  

Don’t try to skirt around the issue. This is not the time for a chatty intro before you get down to the real point of the conversation. There’s a good chance the individual will have an idea of what’s coming, so get to the point straight away.  

Waffling on and not dealing with the issue will only lessen the effect of the conversation, or even confuse the recipient as to what you were trying to say.


Remain Calm and Professional  

Adopting an even tone and remaining professional is easier than it sounds, but it’s essential to ensure you don’t become emotional during a difficult conversation.   

If you become emotional, its likely so will the person you are talking to, and if that happens, the whole process can break down.  

Be direct; aim to deal with the facts of the matter and remove personal relationships with the individual from the discussion to enable you to bring about a composed and conclusive outcome.  


Be Empathetic  

Although you may be delivering critical reasons to your finance team member as to why they need to change their behaviour or improve their performanceand the consequences if they don’t e.g. they may be removed from the role and/or lose their job, this doesn’t mean your delivery should be aggressive in any way.   

A good leader needs to be a master of emotional intelligenceTry to put yourself in their shoes – there may be genuine reasons for their recent behaviour that could throw light on the situation.

Although not an excuse for bad behaviour or poor work, we’re all only human, so deliver your words with care and remind them that the main point of the conversation is to enable them to grow and become better; that you want to see them ultimately succeed.  


Be Prepared to Listen   

Giving the employee the opportunity to ask you questions to clarify why they are having this conversation will help them understand the reasons behind it and see it as a means to improve.   

Avoid using negatives in your conversation as much as possible and focus on the positive outcomes that could arise from it.   

Hopefully, by engaging these points when you next need to have a difficult conversation with an employee, you will be able to ensure that it is received positively and is productive for the individual. 

Contact Rebus Financial Recruitment or call us on 01282 930930 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, you can achieve great things. 





About Rebus Financial Recruitment  

Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from a wide variety of organisations including SME’s to large PLCs. 

We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs; and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930. 

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