#1 - Management Best Practices - How to Have Tough Conversations


February 20th, 2024

1 hr 5 mins 56 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Management Best Practices - How to Have Tough Conversations

About This Episode
If tough conversations have the power to bring about positive change, why are they often associated with feelings of discomfort? Join GBA’s Jennifer Sanborn and Leadership Development Coach Jen Bell as they explore how to facilitate better one-on-one discussions.

“Our aversion to difficult conversations comes from the inherent potential for conflict associated with corrective actions,” Bell says. “But through a well-prepared, strategic approach, we can address pressing concerns amicably and simultaneously build a culture of mutual understanding.”

By embracing discomfort as a catalyst for positive change, we pave the way for enhanced collaboration, improved relationships, and a resilient, forward-thinking workplace.

Series Summary
Becoming a manager or supervisor is an important step in many people’s professional careers, and it introduces a set of new responsibilities that they may not have had in their prior role. The Management Best Practices series highlights a handful of those responsibilities, the challenges that can go along with them, and best practices for navigating through them. The episodes in this series will provide valuable advice for new as well as seasoned managers or supervisors.

Our Host
Jennifer Sanborn, PE – Vice President/Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc.
After 20 years of being part of and leading environmental engineering project teams, Jenn currently leads career development, learning, employee engagement, and culture initiatives at Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. Jenn continues to lead a small number of projects, conducting environmental assessments and cleanup under the USEPA Brownfields program. Jenn is passionate about staff development and seeing those around her succeed. As a supervisor, she enjoys the opportunity to mentor staff and guide their career development. She is also a member of Sanborn Head’s Board of Directors.

About Our Guest
Jen Bell – Leadership Development Coach/True North Culture Advisors
Jen is a passionate, Boston-based leadership coach who joined True North Culture Advisors in 2018. She possesses 25 years of experience and approaches client engagements with empathy and discernment to uncover new leadership insights for various professionals in different industries. For over 20 years, Jen has worked extensively in both international non-profit ministries and corporate America. Her work has focused on developing leadership teams, executive and leadership coaching, and optimizing organizational strategies. Her relationship development skills, coupled with her strong operational acumen, have helped her develop more productive teams across the organizations she’s led.

Lessons Learned:

  • Leaders must make an effort to become skilled in tough conversations.
  • Creating an environment where such discussions feel normal is crucial.
  • Lack of accountability can lead to organizational dysfunction.
  • Failing to hold people accountable limits growth and development (aka leadership sacrilege!).
  • Trust is crucial for corrective, hard conversations.
  • Earning the right to address tough issues is essential.
  • Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.
  • Indicators that a tough conversation needs to be had include big offenses and violations of core values.
  • Strategies involve being well-prepared, clear, compassionate, and inviting response.
  • So-called stop conversations address unacceptable behaviors, while switch conversations change perspectives.
  • Grow conversations provide opportunities for learning and improvement.
  • Documentation and facts are essential for effective grow conversations.



This episode was produced by the following GBA Members: