5-Point Check List for Tough Talks

    Jean Palmer Heck   

Too many hiring managers avoid giving direct feedback to job prospects, citing busy schedules but most are simply reluctant to deliver “bad news.”  This frustrating reality is why I agreed to help former colleague Jean Palmer Heck with her timely new book, Tough Talks in Tough Times: What Bosses Need to Know to Deliver Bad News, Motivate Employees & Stay Sane.

Jean and I worked together at Eli Lilly and Company a long time ago–the first corporate jobs for both of us.  Since then, Jean has traveled the world and is now a successful communications consultant and public speaker. 

To determine how to better communicate difficult messages, Jean spent nearly a year researching discussions with people who were experts in their fields–human resource specialists, psychotherapists, an employment attorney, a communications director at a major corporation, and thought leaders in the field of corporate communications.

Jean’s book includes 22 case studies and a 5-step process (the CHECK system) for handling difficult conversations.  Jean’s book isn’t just for bosses.  Her tips apply to people on either end of difficult conversations, including job seekers, employees, spouses, parents and children.

Jean’s Tough Talks CHECK system is an acronym for:

1.    Clarity–about the message, purpose and details
2.    How to–deliver the right words
3.    Emotions–allowing for feelings to be processed
4.    Comprehension–ensuring the recipient understands the message
5.    Kickoff–the next phase to keep the workforce and the boss moving forward

Jean’s research has shown that organizations, which take too long to have the “tough talks,” destroy morale and risk losing good employees when the economy rebounds. “Putting off the announcement or discussion doesn’t mean that workers won’t ask ‘What’s going on?’ It just means they will make up their own answers. And rumors can devastate a company,” Jean notes.  Failing to provide direct feedback to job prospects risks the same long-term damage to brand reputation for the organization failing to properly handle tough talks.

Jean Palmer Heck is president of Real-Impact, Inc.  Tough Talks in Tough Times is available in select bookstores and online via Amazon.com or direct from the author.  For information, visit www.toughtalks.biz.

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