Communicate Tough Messages with Compassion

By Amy L Shoemaker, President and Owner of Amy L Shoemaker Partnerships, LLC and CWCC Member

Over 85% of Leaders dread communicating tough messages.  They want to help their employee be successful, but don’t want to hurt their feelings or risk demotivating them.  How do you communicate tough messages with compassion?

Two Purposes of a Coaching Conversation:

  1. Your first goal is to communicate your concern in a kind and compassion manner
    1. Seek to understand and be understood – describe the behaviors you are observing today and clearly communicate what success looks like!
    2. Create awareness so their behavior is a choice rather than a habit – what other options exist at work to successfully do their job
    3. Seek accuracy – clarify successful job performance and answer their questions to ensure they understand the desired performance or behavior
    4. Offer to create a shift – how can you support their new behavior
  2. Your second goal is to Produce a New Result
    1. Outcome of the Conversation – agree on the new behavior or performance with the employee
    2. Problem Solved – verify that the new behavior is successful and productive for the employee, customers and coworkers
    3. Action Plan Created and Upside/Downside of Action Plan – support and reinforce the new action plan and assess the advantages and disadvantages of the options prior to creating the action plan
    4. Movement toward Resolution – celebrate steady and gradual improvements toward the new performance goal

Please share other tips that have made your coaching conversations productive for you and your team.

If you are interested in learning more about what skills are needed to advance your career, take a look at the Corporate Executive Leadership Academy offered at the Colorado Women’s Chamber.


Amy Shoemaker Headshot 2014About Amy L. Shoemaker, PHR, SHRM-CP, CMC, EMBA
Amy Shoemaker utilizes more than 25 years of business experience in human resources and training to provide strategic human resource consulting, executive coaching and leadership development, and merger and acquisition leadership integration.  She uses her 18 years experience as a vice president and strategic HR leader in entrepreneurial mid-size, and Fortune 500 corporations to exceed her clients’ expectations.  Amy develops future leaders by serving as adjunct faculty and content adviser for the Master’s in Strategic Human Resources program at The University of Denver.  She is adjunct faculty for Colorado State University’s Veterinary Management Institute and Beverage Business Institute.

Education and Certifications

  • Wichita State University, Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA)
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business, Human Resources Executive Program
  • Cornell University – Diversity Course Employer Adviser
  • HR Certification Institute, Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
  • Behavioral Coaching Institution, Certified Master Coach (CMC)
  • CPI 260 Leadership Assessment, Certified Practitioner
  • Emergenetics International, Certified Associate
  • Thomas Killman Instrument – Conflict Resolution Style

Professional Associations and Civic Groups

  • Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Facilitator/Founder Corporate Leadership Academy
  • Mile High SHRM Chapter, Board of Directors- Professional Development Groups
  • Northern Colorado Human Resource Association, Board of Directors, Conference Chair
  • Rocky Mountain HR People & Strategy, member

Office: 303-993-2364;    Mobile: 316-305-7972
LinkedIn: Amy L Shoemaker

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