Run an effective conversation with your returning employee

While managing extended leaves you will likely need to run many important and difficult conversations. Get inspired on how to do that with our templates and tips.

While managing returners you will likely need to run a number of important conversations including one when you first find out they want to take leave, when they communicate to you that they plan to return to work and after their ramp up period to make sure they are motivated and on track with their career development. In this post we are continuing with tips for how to run a conversation with your returning employee.

Starting the conversation: give them a warm welcome on the team!

It is very important to give your employee a warm welcome, so they can feel encouraged and motivated. Here is what you can say:

 “Hi Anna, it’s great to have you back. We missed you in a team as an expert of… and your skills… . How did you enjoy your leave?”

Focus the conversation on discovering their needs

After you’ve welcomed your employee, ask questions to get a better sense of their needs and find out about ways to best support them. Here are some examples of what you can say:

    1. You are back after 7 months of being on leave. I believe that during this time a lot has changed in your life. In order to make your come back to work more smooth and effective I would like to understand how you feel, what your expectations are etc. 
    2. Why don’t you tell me how do you feel about being back?
    3. What are you excited about?
    4. What are your fears?
    5. Any special needs you have?

Actively listen to figure out ways of how you can best support them and agree actionable next steps

Once they are giving their answers, listen closely. You may use an active listening techniques of paraphrasing and asking follow up questions to make sure you really understand. Here is an example that illustrates what we mean by that.

Anna’s response:

“I’m really happy to be back and I cannot wait to get involved in projects and get up to speed with what is going on in the business. I would love to progress my career. The time I spent with my baby was great however I really need to be challenged at work. I missed my work.”

Manager’s response:

I hear that you feel excited about being back as it’d allow you to develop your skills and work on impactful projects. Let me better understand your needs:

    1. What skills in particular would you like to develop?
    2. Do you have a specific project in mind?
    3. Let me tell you what projects our team has been recently working on and where I see you can provide most value to the team.
    4. I would need some time to think if and how we could align your needs and interests with the team’s needs.  I will check what options we have and come back to you with an answer next week.”