3 HR Challenges And What You Can Do

Originally Published in Today’s Veterinary Business, December 2017

 

Recruiting, training and retaining quality employees is an ongoing challenge for veterinary practices of all sizes. Successfully doing so, though, is crucial if a practice is to thrive.

Team members involved in human resources should know how to address the three key issues below. Let’s look at the issues, questions to consider and methods of dealing with the challenges.

The Millennial Age

As baby boomers retire and Generation X ages, increasing numbers of millennials are entering the workforce. Expectations have been high for this generation, known as ambitious high achievers, but their transition into the workforce hasn’t necessarily been smooth. Intergenerational misunderstandings and conflicts waste millennial potential.

It’s important to note that a large percentage of millennials were raised by parents who packed their kids’ schedules with music lessons, sports practices and more. Many parents approached teachers and coaches if they felt their child did not receive a fair grade or wasn’t getting enough playing time.

Because of this helicopter parenting, some millennials are not as accustomed to asking for what they want and need, as previous generations were, which helps to explain why 93 percent of millennials left their last jobs and changed roles without first approaching their supervisor.

How can the lines of communication be opened between generations? How can the energy and talent of millennials be effectively harnessed in your practice?

  1. Work-life balance. According to one study, 57 percent of millennials say that work-life balance, along with personal well-being, is very important. A lack of flexibility was one of the main reasons millennials quit a job. How can you incorporate flexibility into your practice?
  2. Family oriented: Almost 40 percent of the millennial generation is so unhappy with the dearth of paid parental leave that they are willing to move to another country to obtain the benefit. How can you address the concern?
  3. Team oriented: Why does team-based work appeal to millennials? One, they find the work more pleasurable, and two, some prefer to avoid risk. Accommodating this preference would be beneficial to your practice, as these workers tend to contribute their best efforts when working in collaboration with others. They enjoy tackling challenges and don’t like to be bored. How can you harness this positive energy?
  4. Externally motivated: Many millennials are motivated by personal achievement and they appreciate participating in cross-functional situations where their expertise is merged with the skills of others to achieve common goals. They are accustomed to frequent feedback, so if you want to boost their potential in the practice, be transparent about your expectations and provide the desired feedback, including but not limited to regular performance reviews. Also, give praise and recognition when deserved, and create opportunities for promotions.
  5. Open communication: These channels are important to millennials. Despite being well connected via technology, they appreciate face-to-face time.

Drug Landscape

U.S. drug use and abuse negatively impacts the workplace. Heroin use is rising in many demographics and in both genders. Prescription opioids are problematic, too. More than two-dozen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, at least medically and sometimes recreationally.

Alcohol and drug abuse cost U.S. businesses an estimated $81 billion a year through lost productivity, according to one report. Substance abusers are absent 10 times as much as non-abusers and are late three times as much, studies show. Moreover, abusers use medical benefits 300 percent more often than non-abusers.

Veterinary practices face an additional challenge: a drug cabinet full of potentially addictive drugs, both controlled and non-controlled.

Drug testing is an option to address this situation in your workplace. What should your practice do? Steps include:

  • Become aware of your state’s laws on drug testing.
  • Create a formal, written drug abuse policy that addresses why the policy was established, what you expect from employees and what the consequences will be if the policy is violated.
  • Set the parameters of the drug testing policy, including whom you will test, when you will test, for which reasons you will test and the logistics of the testing procedures.
  • Determine how to address potential problems with drug testing. These include employee morale issues and resentment; claims that abuse-prevention programs are sufficient without testing; the financial expense; and legal challenges that may arise from the testing protocol.

Paid Time Off

Policies governing paid sick leave were left to individual companies before 2011, but then Connecticut mandated paid leave for service workers. Since then, Oregon, Massachusetts, California and Vermont, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have passed paid sick-leave laws. Arizona joined the list last summer, and Washington State will be added in January 2018. Some counties and cities mandate paid sick leave for people working within their boundaries.

In general, states that have passed sick-leave laws require employers to provide an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with 40 hours of leave annually often the minimum. This time typically can be used for family care as well.

To ensure compliance:

  • Know your state’s laws and be aware of pending legislation.
  • If paid sick leave is not required in your state, double-check county and city laws.
  • Review your practice’s policies.
  • Determine what modifications you should make. Perhaps create a policy from scratch if the necessary changes are significant.
  • Update your employee handbook and redistribute it.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, New York is mandating paid family leave for all employees as part of a worker-funded initiative. Payroll deductions start at 70 cents a week and rise to $1.40. This means that any employee covered by the state’s temporary disability insurance law who has, for 26 weeks or more, worked full time will be eligible for paid family leave. This also applies if someone has worked part time for a covered employer for 175 days.

All private employers must participate, and public employers have the option to do so.

Click link to see article on Today’s Veterinary Business http://todaysveterinarybusiness.com/3-h-r-challenges-can/

Dissecting and Creating A Paid Time Off Policy

When it’s time to create your paid time off (PTO) policy, it’s important to answer the five Ws and the H: who, what, when, where, why and how. Focusing first on the “why,” note that, in the actual policies, you don’t typically share why policies are created in the ways they are, but you should definitely consider why you are creating each policy as they are formulated. Annually, when you review the policies, consider why updates should (or should not) be made.

Who 

Who will each policy apply to? How will they differ for different people? Some practices, for example, might offer 80 hours of paid vacation hours per year to full-time employees, while part-time employees working 20 hours per week would receive 40 hours, and so forth

What 

What types of PTO will you offer? Vacation time? Sick time? Personal time? Some practices lump all the hours together as PTO because it’s easier, administratively speaking, to track the total number of days (or hours) someone has available rather than breaking it up into multiple categories. The advantage of breaking it up: you can limit vacation time, for example, or the number of days someone can call off for personal time.

What can employees do with unused days at the end of the year? Carry them over to the next year? If not, will that PTO simply expire or can employees ask to be paid for those unused days?

When

When can employees use the PTO? Making it all available at the beginning of the year is easier but some employees might use all the time in Q1 and quit, so perhaps half can be available in Q1/2; the other half in Q3/4. When can employees start to use PTO? Is there a waiting period? If so, the waiting period for practices is typically 30 to 180 days. When will the amount of available PTO increase for employees? After they’ve worked at the practice for three years? Five? By how much will it increase?

Where 

Where should employees submit their requests for PTO? In a designated place on the company’s internal website? In the mailbox of the human resource director?

How

How much notice will you require when someone requests time off? This ranges from one to six weeks in most practices, depending upon the types of PTO offered. Do you allow any last-minute requests (outside of sick days which naturally are last minute)? If so, what?

 

How #Me Too Affects You, Too

Originally posted in Today’s Veterinary Business, February 2018

Sexual harassment in the workplace must be dealt with promptly, fairly and firmly.

The #MeToo movement started last fall with claims of sexual harassment and rape against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Before long, dark shadows were cast over other powerful men — from entertainment personalities Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Russell Simmons and James Franco to politicians Al Franken and Roy Moore.

Although any accusation typically gets more publicity when a celebrity is involved, sexual misconduct occurs in all walks of life. What will you do — and should you do — as a veterinary practice owner or manager if an employee lodges harassment claims? What if the employee joins the #MeToo movement and goes onto social media to name names at your hospital?

If your team has a sexual harasser, your practice may be one complaint away from a disaster. How should your practice respond to the multilayered issue of sexual harassment? Do you know how to respond to complaints and proactively protect your practice?

Knowledge Is Power

First, take a good, hard look at your hospital’s sexual harassment training program and be honest with yourself. What is the quality of the program and how much effort do you put into it? If the program isn’t as well thought out and implemented as it could be and should be, you’re not alone, but improving it must be a priority. The training must pay more than lip service to the issue and must not be only a way to limit your liability if or when a complaint occurs.

Your program and policies must make a stand for respect and equality in the workplace, and you must amplify that by how you train, by how you communicate and by how you serve as a role model in your practice.

If you don’t have an anti-harassment training program, you need to create one now. It must be a top priority. You need to carefully craft harassment and sexual misconduct policies and procedures and share them with all your employees. Consider role-playing sexual harassment scenarios to give your team the opportunity to demonstrate and discuss the true impact of sexual harassment. If you don’t know where to start, consider hiring a practice consultant or human resources expert to construct a plan and conduct in-clinic training.

Your policies and procedures should provide multiple ways for an employee to report acts of harassment. If the only official avenue is for someone to go to his or her direct supervisor, how does it help if the supervisor is the harasser? This scenario, unfortunately, does happen.

Also have a plan for how you will follow through on complaints, and don’t rule out hiring outside legal counsel if appropriate. Once the policies and procedures are finalized, add them to the employee manual and go over them with the entire team. Review the policies annually, or more often if changes are made. Specific policies and procedures may vary by practice, but the bottom line in any document must be that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. It will be investigated promptly and addressed decisively.

Responding to Complaints

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires prompt and proportionate corrective action whenever harassment is found to have taken place, with workplaces having both a legal and ethical responsibility to appropriately address complaints.

However, this does not mean that managers should assume the accused is guilty before an investigation has even started. Nor should assumptions be made based on gender — for example, assuming that men are the harassers and women are the victims. These approaches, in fact, are among the worst ways to respond. In today’s emotionally heated environment of almost daily news reports of sexual harassment, you must be fair to all parties and never punish a person based solely on an accusation or because of preconceived gender roles.

Step one is to take every complaint seriously and not rush to judgment. After you receive a complaint, promptly follow up and investigate thoroughly. Remember that anyone doing the investigating must remain fair and objective. Listen carefully to the complainant and assure the employee that retaliation for the complaint will not be permitted. Tell the complainant that if retaliation occurs or if harassment continues, you need to know about it right away and will address the behavior.

Document all discussions carefully, including the dates, times and witnesses to relevant events. When you inform the accused of the complaint, assure him or her that a fair and impartial investigation will take place and that guilt is not assumed.

Also, communicate regularly with the parties so they don’t feel ignored and explain that a rushed investigation serves no one well.

Once you’ve collected as much information as possible, use discernment in making the best decision you can about the complaint. Consult with an attorney to make sure you are looking at the situation appropriately. If the attorney has concerns about the investigation or the conclusions, take a good second look. You can move forward once the attorney supports your decision and reasoning.

Document all follow-up steps — from training to discipline — and keep the case files separate from regular personnel files.

Always Be Aware

Managers would be well-served to routinely monitor interaction among co-workers rather than wait for a complaint to be filed. Doing this might prevent less serious behaviors from expanding into full-blown misconduct. Keep an open-door policy as well so an employee feels safe sharing problems. If these conversations alert you to a sexual harassment situation — or even if you hear workplace rumors — they must be investigated.

Here are three additional steps to take:

  • Review your employment practices liability insurance policy to see if legal costs associated with harassment are included. Determine if you need more coverage.
  • Remain alert to sexual harassment issues and related legal cases, including those happening in other professions.
  • Each year, review your sexual harassment policies and procedures, adjust them as needed, and inform all employees about the changes.

Bad P.R.

Finally, what will your practice do if a team member joins the #MeToo movement and uses social media to out your practice or an employee? Don’t wait for this possibility to become a reality. Instead, be proactive and develop a plan to address the situation if someone connected with your practice goes public with a complaint. Address both the legal and public relations concerns and get input from your attorney and other relevant professionals.

Is your practice prepared? Even if your hospital never gets entangled in the #MeToo movement, ignoring it is a problem. Instead, acknowledge the campaign and explicitly tell your employees that you agree with the fight against sexism both in the workplace and away from it. Work with your managers so they are prepared to foster an environment in which everyone can be safe from harassment.

Train and support your managers so they know how to handle a situation in which they personally observe inappropriate behaviors. Empower your team to handle harassment claims by providing them with all the policies, procedures and resources they might need, and be prepared to back them up all the way.

Originally posted in Today’s Veterinary Business  http://todaysveterinarybusiness.com/how-metoo-affects-you-too/

Protecting Your Practice from Toxic Teams

“You know when a veterinary practice is toxic. You can almost smell it, that tang of adrenaline from spiking anger. You feel it. Your stomach sinks when you walk in the door and you sense the tension hanging in the air. Worse yet? You’re fully aware that the toxicity can lead to bad medical decisions resulting from spite or exhaustion or vindictiveness. The fantasies run through your head when you think about quitting – or finally getting up the courage to fire the bad apple that’s ruining the bunch. It all feels like a sickly gas floating through every client interaction, every treatment area procedure and every breakroom conversation.”

The article “Toxic Teams,” published in dvm360.com in February 2017, bluntly lays out what a toxic veterinary practice can feel like. Written by Rachael Zimlich, a registered nurse and journalist, the article also shares the dire potential consequences that can occur if a toxic environment is not addressed: bad medical decisions arising from spite, exhaustion or vindictiveness.

The article is also chock-full of responses to questions about the effects of toxicity in the veterinary workplace. They include the following results:

  • 93% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that communication issues can affect patient care
  • 95% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that communication issues can affect client care
  • 79% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that team conflict can affect patient care
  • 90% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that team conflict can affect client care
  • 78% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that communication issues can change decisions about which doctors and team members see particular cases
  • 78% of people agreed or strongly agreed that communication issues make it difficult to agree to medical protocols
  • 76% of people agreed or strongly agreed that team conflict can change decisions about which doctors and team members see particular cases
  • 68% of people agreed or strongly agreed that team conflicts make it difficult to agree to medical protocols

So, how can your practice fight back against a toxic team environment? Here are six steps to take.

#1 Sliding Scale of Toxicity: Where Are You?

Practices fall along an entire spectrum of toxicity. If you’re one of the lucky ones, your team isn’t toxic, but you realize how you need to proactively keep it that way. If that’s the case, create policies that clearly define how communication should take place, which behaviors are acceptable and which ones aren’t, and the like. Get input from the various teams in your practice and, when the policy is formalized, add it to your employee handbook, hold meetings to discuss the new policy and review it annually, especially noting any changes.

If you recognize that your team already has a level of toxicity, go on to step two.

#2 Define What Behaviors Are Toxic

No two practices are alike, but common signs of toxicity include gossiping and bullying; staff feeling as though expectations are unclear and/or workloads are unreasonable; a management team that dictates what everyone should do without considering team feedback; and many more. Any one of these is a reason for concern and, if you recognize multiple toxic behaviors, the need for a solution becomes even more urgent.

#3 Model Appropriate Behaviors

Do as I say, not as I do. Managers and owners seldom say that statement out loud, but that message can easily be conveyed without ever being specifically articulated – and it is a recipe for disaster. If you want your team to communicate clearly and professionally, then that’s exactly what the managers and owners must do. If it’s important that team members follow specific policies and procedures, these need to be clearly provided – verbally and in writing – and the actions of managers and owners should not run contrary to them.

If you laugh about difficult clients after they leave, what message is that sending to your team? If you aren’t accountable to your team, how likely is it that they will ultimately be accountable to you? The actions of owners and managers must set the bar with high standards.

#4 Listen Carefully and Ask for Solutions

To get to the bottom of what’s making your practice toxic, you’ll need to talk to team members about their experiences, both good and bad – and you’ll need to carefully listen to what they tell you. You can use multiple formats to listen, including team meetings, one-on-one conversations, surveys where people respond anonymously and the like.

Don’t be afraid to ask your team to come up with solutions to identified problems. You are not obligated to use them, but you will probably find that many of them are quite good – and, since they have come from team members, at least some members of your practice will automatically be invested in making them work. There is also nothing wrong with setting the expectation that employees are responsible for attempting to solve their own problems, but practice owners and managers must ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination, harassment and the like.

#5 Address Toxic People Directly

Although team meetings can be excellent vehicles to gather information, they aren’t the best forums to handle toxic behaviors of a select number of employees. Instead, you need to set up individual meetings with people you’ve identified as participating in undesirable behaviors and come up with customized behavioral modification plans. Begin by privately sharing what you  have observed about inappropriate behaviors and get a response from the toxic employee. Ideally, that person wasn’t aware of the impact of his or her behaviors and will agree to modify them. Other times, the employee will need to go through the disciplinary procedures set up in your employee manual, up to and including termination.

It isn’t unusual for a practice owner or manager to be reluctant to fire someone, perhaps because this person is the best one in the practice for handling fearful animals, as just one example, or the one who understands your computer system inside and out. But, toxic is toxic and, if that person does not appropriately modify behaviors, your practice, your clients and your patients will continue to be harmed.

#6 Right Size Your Expectations

Sure, you’d like it if you could tell your team to stop being toxic – and then they did. In reality, though, progress is likely to be incremental. After you’ve identified toxic behaviors, and then created and shared policies about expected behaviors, be sure to reward improved behaviors. Focus on making the workplace a more positive and healthy one, and celebrate each step towards that important goal.

2018 Calendar for Human Resources Related Events ©

2018 – Is it really here in just the blink of an eye?  We have updated our calendar with additional events that you should be addressing in 2018 regarding Human Resources related activities.  Please take the time to at least scan the list and pencil in on your appointment book or mark on your outlook calendar or for you techies with the smart phones or tablets, maybe there’s an app for that – so that you are proactively prepared to administer or address each event in a timely manner.  Our list is based on a calendar year and your Practice’s fiscal year running concurrently.  But any listed activity below, can be scheduled in the month that you need to begin the activity, so that you have enough planned lead time to get the event executed successfully according to your own schedule.  Not all activities may pertain to your Practice (some depend on the number of employees working for you) and the list is comprehensive but not all inclusive – it is meant to get you thinking about Human Resources related activities and functions for the upcoming year.  And as a reminder, some of the new HR related activities that are listed due to their prescribed implementation dates may change as we get closer to the deadline dates because sometimes legislative acts may get challenged, postponed or shelved.  As we hear of updates, we will post them in our newsletter.

MONTH HUMAN RESOURCES ACTIVITIES
DECEMBER 2017
  • Prepare OSHA form 300A from OSHA 300 log
  • Finalize Performance Management Review discussions and inform employees of annual increases/bonuses and effective dates
  • The NLRB requires employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act with a posted notice by January 31, 2018 (to order the posting notice for free, use the following link http://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/EmployeeRightsPoster11x17_Final.pdf )
  • Remind employees – IRS changes for 2018 to pension plans or 401(k) plans
  • Remind employees to submit a new W-4 form if withholding changes are to be made for 2018
JANUARY

2018

 

 

 

 

  • Reset dates and accumulators associated with HRIS/Payroll systems for the new processing year
  • Request Vacation Schedules from the staff for the year – not set in stone but helps you plan, especially on the dates that everyone wants off.
  • Post a Holiday calendar of when the Practice will observe the holidays
  • Commence Performance Management – setting mutually agreed upon goals for the year/creating career development plans and distributing a Performance Management Review calendar for 2018 with ‘Pay for Performance’ guidelines communicated
  • Review Federal & State Law posters – ensure compliance and updated postings
  • Issue 2017 W2’s and 1099’s for current and former employees
  • If you travel for Hospital business, the IRS 2017 mileage rate is 57.5 cents.  Check for new rate for 2018.
FEBRUARY

2018

 

 

 

 

  • Post complete OSHA form 300A for 3 months
  • Implement Employee Engagement Survey – get feedback on your organizational culture
  • Review current and create new job descriptions in anticipation of Talent Acquisition Process
  • Employees must  change the withholding exemption to “single, with zero allowances” for employees who claimed total exemption from withholding for last year, unless the individuals have completed a new Form W-4
  • Structure a Training Schedule – to determine which classes (technical/developmental skills) should be conducted internally vs. externally
  • Facilitate a quarterly HR meeting – review policies, procedures and ‘celebrate success’
  • Conduct a market survey on Compensation pay ranges
MARCH 2018

 

 

 

  • Review and communicate feedback from Employee Engagement Survey – determine what ‘hot issues’ will be addressed and implemented by when
  • Recruit and Pipeline network of potential new hires aligned to Practice’s workforce planning model/budget
  • All plan sponsors and health insurance issuers must provide Standardized Health Plan Summaries of Benefits and Coverage along with glossary of terms to enrollees/potential enrollees
  • Review SDS’s to determine if any hazardous chemical inventory needs attention or submission to appropriate agencies.
APRIL 2018

 

 

 

 

  • Conduct HR related seminars such as ‘How to Prevent Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace’ (some states such as CT require this training if you have ≥ 50 employees)
  • Investigate with your health insurance broker, carrier and attorney how the Health Care Reform Act affects the Practice for 2018 especially if the health care plan designs are changing or laws that affect FT/PT eligibility  need to be declared
  • Community Living Assistance and Services Support (CLASS) Act, (basic lifetime long term care benefit in the event of illness or disability) has been suspended from implementation
  • Review if any new federal/state labor laws that go into effect in the upcoming months and how the laws will affect the Practice
  • Review and update Employee Manual to ensure up-to-date and compliant
MAY 2018

 

 

  • Commence Half Year Performance Management Reviews – according to calendar distributed in January
  • Facilitate a quarterly HR meeting – review policies, procedures, distribute updated Employee Manual and obtain annual acknowledgment receipt of  Employee Manual including Confidentiality Agreement and ‘celebrate success’
JUNE 2018

 

  • Finalize all Half Year Performance Management Review discussions
  • Conduct a component of an HR audit (e.g. employee files or payroll or records retention, etc)
JULY 2018

 

  • Complete and submit 5500 forms for employee benefit plans
  • Complete an HR budget aligned to the Practice’s 2019 strategic/financial business objectives
AUGUST 2018

 

  • Receive carrier bids on 2019 plans from health insurance broker to determine plan designs and costs
  • Facilitate a quarterly HR meeting – review policies, procedures and ‘celebrate success’
SEPTEMBER 2018
  • File EEO-1 form for employers with ≥100 employees
  • Communicate Open Enrollment Benefits calendar for October
OCTOBER 2018

 

 

  • Conduct Open Enrollment for Health Care and other insurance plans to include processing information to the respective carriers
  • Finalize HR budget with Practice owner
  • Discuss with Practice owner percentage of salary adjustments and bonus opportunities to set aside
NOVEMBER 2018

 

  • Commence Annual Performance Management Reviews – according to calendar distributed in January
  • Facilitate a quarterly HR meeting – review policies, procedures and ‘celebrate success’
  • Discuss and agree upon HR goals for the Practice in 2019
DECEMBER 2018

 

 

  • Prepare OSHA form 300A from OSHA 300 log
  • Finalize Performance Management Review discussions and inform employees of annual increases/bonuses and effective dates
  • Remind employees – IRS changes for 2019 to pension plans or 401(k) plans
  • Remind employees to submit a new W-4 form if withholding changes are to be made for 2019
  • Remind employees about Flexible Spending Accounts’ limits ($2,500)

Politics in the Workplace – Navigating Political Talk in the Office with Tact

With the past year being so divisive in the world of politics, tensions are running high throughout the country – so it isn’t surprising that political beliefs are a hot subject in and around the workplace. You may therefore have found yourself thrown into conversations or debates that got just a little too heated or left you feeling uncomfortable or even disrespected. On the other side of the spectrum, you may have been overly zealous when discussing such topics with co-workers because of your own passion. It isn’t easy to navigate these types of situations, but here are a few practical tips to help make it easier.

Tip #1

In general, politics don’t make for good workplace conversations. So, don’t start them and, whenever possible, don’t engage in them. Having said that, you spend a significant amount of time with your colleagues each week, so it’s only natural to want to discuss something you feel very strongly about with the people you spend the most time with. If that resonates, then move on to the next tip.

Tip #2

Always weigh the potential consequences of inserting yourself into political conversation. If the subject at hand is highly divisive, you may risk damaging work relationships, and the chances of changing a colleague’s mind about political points of view are slim. So, if you decide to enter a political conversation, don’t do it with the idea that you’ll change someone else’s opinion. Instead, consider the discussion as an opportunity to learn about other points of view, as a way to gain more insight and improve your own diplomacy skills.

Tip #3

Handling conversations with tact means that you remain open-minded and you listen carefully to answers given. Ask questions and, when you don’t agree, don’t immediately pull away from the conversation. Don’t be disrespectful in your verbal responses or, as best you can, in your body language. When you try to understand differing opinions, your world view expands, even if just by a little bit. If you feel as though a conversation is going poorly, you can say, “This isn’t heading in a good direction. I respect your opinion, so let’s just agree to disagree” and then get back to work.

Tip #4

Recognize that learning how to talk about politics in a productive manner may help you to handle other work-related conversations requiring finesse, such as disagreements about policy or peer performance reviews. Conversations that are difficult – such as those centered on controversial political topics – can ultimately benefit your ability to handle challenging interpersonal situations as long as you handle them with tact and learn from them.