Supervision can be both a wonderful and a thankless job.
Probably one of the most challenging parts is addressing employee performance and/or conduct issues. It is going to happen. Be it a discussion with an employee about the volume and/or frequency of his cell phone, telling an employee she has body odor; addressing internet misuse; or critiquing a wonderfully bad presentation, it is going to happen.
When employee performance and/or conduct issues do occur, take a tool from your toolbox and address them head on. Some supervisors use the same tool every time, the hammer. The pitfalls of always using the hammer are obvious to most. Either by leadership style or by conscious choice, supervisors can swing the pendulum the other way and, in the interest of preserving feelings, maintaining relationships or identifying learning opportunities, they reach past the hammer and grab a brush.
The brush is soft and gentle and it hurts less than a hammer. When meeting with an employee to discuss performance and/or conduct issues, the message should be that the performance or conduct does not meet expectations/standards. Delivering this message is uncomfortable for all involved. And, this is the message that must be delivered.
Supervisory caution: do not soften the issue or concern so much that the message is lost.
Employee performance and/or conduct issues can be addressed head on with compassion and respect. Wouldn't you want the same from your supervisor?