Nobody likes having a difficult conversation with an employee but it’s even more challenging on screen.

In the current environment, many businesses are still working remotely. As we move towards the end of the year, managers will be preparing to have end-of-year review conversations with employees.

It’s challenging enough having a review meeting with an employee over a video conference or on the phone but it’s even trickier when you need to have a difficult conversation with an under-performing team member. When a face-to-face conversation is not possible, the next best option is to arrange a video call.

Treat it like an in-person meeting

Whilst meeting with an employee on a video conference isn’t the same as meeting in person, the key point is to engage in two-way communication.  Make eye contact, ask questions and give the other person time to really engage in the conversation. Prepare any paperwork ahead of time and have it ready to send by email, for e-signature (if required).

Consider the place and time

If you’re working with employees across time zones, set up a call that is appropriate for everyone’s schedule. Ensure that you leave sufficient time to answer any follow-up questions at the end.

Consider if others need to join

If you are having a disciplinary conversation, it is often a good idea to have another manager join the video conference. At the beginning of the call, you should explain why there is another person in the meeting, then go through the agenda for the call. Having a witness on a disciplinary video conference can be beneficial for all involved as it ensures transparency in the interaction.

Final points

Ensure you follow up after the video conference call and include a summary of key points and next steps, if any. It may also be useful to set up another call, in a few days’ time, in case the employee has any questions, once they have had a chance to reflect on the meeting.