Boss Lady

3 Tough conversations you have to face


We are often warned that with power comes great responsibility. Just like their male counterparts, females in positions of power must have tough conversations if they are to thrive. However, as a woman, there is more scrutiny that comes with decisive action — which can make it a traumatic experience instead of it being “a part of the job”.

For example, Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer received criticism at the beginning of 2014 after firing COO Henrique de Castro. The media were attracted to this story because she was a woman making a tough decision when women are expected to always play nice, even when it isn’t the smartest decision to make in business. Mayer made the right call and will continue to do so despite her critics. Because that is business.

If you are a woman in a position of power (or about to be) here are some guidelines on the three most difficult conversations you will most likely face throughout your career:

1. Resistance to change is a tough conversations

It is a common fact that employees dislike changes and tough conversations within an organisation (in fact humans in general dislike change altogether). They fear their job security may be a thing of the past and as a result often resist any efforts by the organisation to implement change. Unfortunately, if one is to survive (adapt or die) change is inevitable and here are ways to handle the difficult conversations that may arise as a result .

Try and avoid the ‘it’s my way of the high way’ attitude. Keep the communication channels open at all times. Employees need to fully understand why the change is occurring and how it is affecting them…

You can remain firm with employees while still understanding their fears and treating them respect. Remember it is not necessarily what you say but “how you say it”. Of course if your team is being negative for negativity’s sake, there is little you can do except keep moving forward.

2. You’re not doing a good job

No doubt you have experienced this before: staff who seem to avoid all responsibility or are full of excuses as to why they are not doing the job they were hired to do. it is really a tough conversation.

Take this on a case by case basis, and first understand “why” they are behaving this way. Asking questions to better understand an employee’s desires, skills and fears can paint a picture of why they are not performing well.

Don’t wait around for your employees to self-motivate or find direction. You must give them a vision and find ways to keep them motivated towards it.

You should always ensure that each employee is clear about what is expected of them, their responsibilities and their specific contribution toward your business and the wider team.

On the flip side, if they do not improve, have a frank conversation about whether they feel this particular role is suited to them. Who knows, they may be a better fit in another department … or even the exit.

3. Tough conversations in Friendship

Hiring friends is dangerous. There is a reason why people always — and I mean ALWAYS — say “never hire friends and family”. The main reason is that there is a sense of entitlement which often results in that friend (or family member) doing less than what is required of them.

Another danger is to “befriend” people that are below you in the business hierarchy you will have a tough conversations with them. You are in business to do business, not to make friends. It is okay to be friendly but as soon as you start mixing your business world with your personal life things can start to unravel.

Being a woman, this is a hard thing to do. Women, by nature, like to be on friendly terms with everyone. So expect any conversations with people who were once your friends to not end well. Being clear that the business comes first will almost guarantee you are labeled as an unemotional bitch. That’s okay. This is not personal; it’s business, after all.

About Amanda Rose

Founder of The Business Woman Media. Amanda Rose is also the only 'strategic connector', a brand strategist, keynote speaker and host of Amanda Rose TV. Connect with Amanda Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or visit

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