Event Recap: Difficult Conversations 101 – November 13, 2017:

On Monday, November 13, the Young Leaders Group brought together a panel consisting of experienced professionals from various professions – Alexis DuFresne a recruiter at Whitey Partners, Robert Hellmann a career coach with his own consulting practice Hellman Career Consulting, Matthew Noll a military veteran and currently a senior manager at EY, and Alexandra Dickinson founder and CEO of AskForIt as the moderator – to share their insights regarding how best to approach and handle difficult situations that could arise within the workplace.

The main topics of focus were 1) Reviews and Compensation Negotiation, 2) Managing Colleagues, and 3) Career Transitions.  It was a lively discussion as the panelists discussed different strategies to dealing with these issues, some of which were: is it beneficial or detrimental to be aggressive? Should you bring up data you have gathered on other firm’s practices with your manager?  Does gender affect what strategies you can and should employ? Should you bring up personal issues when it comes to negotiating pay with the hopes that your employer can be understanding?

While opinion occasionally varied with regards to the particulars on how best to navigate some of these issues, there was consensus among everyone that it is helpful to be proactive, with an understanding of the context of how you fit within the organization and how much you truly bring to the table.  Do not get too emotional (something that millennials can struggle with as consensus was that a sense of entitlement is stronger within this generation as compared to previous generations); you never want to burn bridges.

The panelists wanted to emphasize that the best way to approach any difficult issue is to maintain a cool composure and state the facts.  Always be understanding of the motivations of your direct reports and managers and never get too defensive; flexibility is the key.  And with regards to personal issues? Your manager probably does not care.  What they do care about however, and what will shape how understanding they will be of what you are asking is whether or not at the end of the day you are “compensating” them and the firm by excelling at what you do and are a valuable member of the team.  Gather the facts and show them this, and you are already halfway there to securing what you are aiming for.

It was an eye opening discussion and everyone was engaged throughout.  After hearing about all these different issues and the potential pitfalls associated with them, one realized that it was never too early to be prepared so that when the moment does come, one will be well positioned to seize the opportunity and secure the ideal outcome.