First appeared on Forbes.com.
A colleague of mine is fond of saying, “Work is easy; people are hard.” And it’s so true. The work itself would be a cakewalk if it weren’t for the minefield of politics, sensitivity, expectation, and ego. And when it’s time to have a tough conversation, from letting someone down to letting someone go, well, it can be stressful. If you’ve ever lain awake at night, running through dress rehearsals of what someone could or might say, you know what I mean.
As someone who’s running a growth business, I know it is important to have a nurturing culture and at the same time hold performance to a high standard. It’s hard because you want to support your team, but you also need to push them. Say, for instance, when an employee is not fulfilling her potential—or the requirements of the job. Or when there are tensions between team members and you need to step in and have the hard talk—because those talks are as hard on you as it is on them (especially when you see it coming and they don’t). As an expert on the stress effect, I know there are ways to handle it better.
Here’s what has worked for me: