You’ve decided it’s time to have a meeting with your Human Resources team. Or perhaps you’ve been called in for a session with them. Yes, it can be nerve-racking in the days leading up to this gathering, however, to have a productive one, it’s necessary to do some work on your end.

In the following sections you’ll find ways to not only have a good meeting with HR, but also how to continue having good communication with them. HR is there to help you succeed with your career and maintaining a good relationship with them will be great for you in the long run.

Do Your Homework Ahead of Time

You’ve received an invitation to attend a meeting with an HR team member or maybe you’ve called a meeting yourself. Now it’s time to do the preparation work for it. Just because you have a complaint or conversation in mind, you need to have other information ready. Maybe it’s just an agenda for what’s going to be covered in the meeting. Or perhaps you need copies of documents to submit to HR, have these items ready ahead of time.

If you didn’t call the meeting, email your HR point of contact to ask why this session has been called. Explain that you want to prepare yourself to have a productive conversation. That way you’re not blindsided by anything or have information ready for their questions.

Aside from personal notes, if this is a serious conversation or complaint, have copies of documents that you will be submitting to HR. Never give away original documents, make multiple sets of photocopies to hand out to attendees. Although you may verbally present something, it helps to have physical notes to accompany it, and for people to refer to at a later date.

Even though this meeting may take place virtually, as many business communities have been doing, make sure to scan in your materials. Then you can share your screen, showcasing this information or email it to participants afterwards. 

Be Prepared to Talk AND Listen

This meeting is meant to be a conversation, not a debate or argument. You are both adults, so it’s time to have a wholesome talk. The topic of the session will likely be rough, but you need to talk and listen in order to understand the reason behind the session.

Ask for help if HR is asking you to improve upon something. Maybe it’s an instance where you and HR can work together to make a timeline for how the issue will be resolved. It also gives you a chance to fix a problem and meet with HR at a later date to check in on progress.

If it’s not necessarily a performance issue, ask questions about points that people bring up. Maybe you’re having an issue with another co-worker or manager. If HR is telling you something you don’t understand, then ask for clarification on it. There’s a lot of moving parts within a business, and for your conversation to have the best result, then you need to have a full picture. The same goes for HR too, and your questions will show that you care and want to fix the problem. Sitting there silently won’t solve any problems.

Remember to Stay Calm

The point of your HR meeting is to resolve an issue. And this issue can range anywhere from a complaint against you, to filing a problem with a manager. Some conversations will be easier than others, but the main thing is to remain calm. Getting excited or letting your emotions take over will not help anyone come to a good resolution. Learn about what triggers you in meetings or start to identify tricks for staying calm that work for you.

If you feel your nerves reaching the end point or it’s too much to handle, request a pause in the conversation. Take a few moments to breathe or get up and move around. If you can’t pause, then remember to breathe. Maybe suggest that the talk stops, and picks up the next day or at a later time, which will allow you to calm down.

Speaking with your HR person about these emotions will relay to them that you need a moment or day to process what’s being presented. Or that it’s time to switch out how the situation is being handled. Maybe instead of focusing on the negative, you can switch out to find a positive for a minute or need to be reassured that this problem will be fixed. Getting into a screaming match or losing your temper will not help anything.

Make a Plan

At the end of the meeting, create a plan for how things will proceed. Whether it’s your job performance or a resolution to an issue, both you and HR will walk away knowing that it’s going to be fixed. Along with notes you bring to the meeting, walk away with notes on how things will proceed so that you can refer to them in the future.

Schedule another meeting if necessary to follow up on what’s been talked about or to check in on resolution progress. Maybe it’s a problem that can’t be covered in one meeting, so you need multiple sessions to get through everything that needs to be talked about. Outlining how to continue will allow you proper time to prepare or map out how things will be addressed.

Establishing an end goal outside of follow up meetings, will give you a full understanding of how things will conclude. If you need to fix something, then the date discussed by you and HR will give you a deadline. If it’s resolving an issue with someone else, having dates for when other meetings will take place will give you time to prepare or know when things will be resolved.

Meetings with HR can be stressful, but productive for you. Remembering any of the tips mentioned above will help you have a good session, and allow you to walk away with a plan. Whether it’s a job performance talk or issue with another employee, working with HR will solve problems in a professional manner.