BEST IELTS General Reading Test 435

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 435

IELTS General Reading Test

Handling Difficult Conversations

For many people challenging or difficult conversations are a bit like the common cold: we all get them, they can be a real nuisance, but there seems to be no cure. The essential element to mastering one-to-one interactions at work, particularly around performance, conduct or communication issues, is remaining in charge. Many people go into difficult conversations with very good intentions, but often make the mistake of prolonging or intensifying the problem rather than restricting or resolving it. A difficult conversation is one where you have to manage emotions and information in a sensitive way.

The first thing you might ask yourself is: is this my problem? Most problems are the responsibility of the line manager, but this is not always the case and there will be times when a more senior manager or, in larger organisations, Human Resource specialists, will talk to an employee first.

IELTS General Reading Test

If you accept that you are the person to talk to an employee, there is still an understandable temptation to delay the potentially awkward encounter for as long as possible. Most of us instinctively know when the right moment is to deal with a problem. Issues do crop up without warning, but more often than not there are alarm bells.

You can help to make conversations with your employees less difficult by having a quiet word at the first sign that something is wrong, keeping in touch with your staff and the team and using employee representatives as sounding boards for how staff are feeling about issues. It is far better to nip problems in the bud rather than waiting for them to become more entrenched or complicated. Your line managers can be of invaluable assistance with this.

IELTS General Reading Test

For difficult conversations, it’s most likely that you will need to have a meeting in private. Face to face communication is more effective than telephone or email, as the employee can see the matter is being taken seriously. Think, too, about the room layout. Sitting opposite someone with a table in front shows a certain formality, but sitting next to someone can be less threatening.

Be prepared. Before the meeting, research and make some notes on areas to discuss along with any evidence for what you have to say. Your internal policies and procedures — for handling discipline and grievances, for example, or absence — should give you a framework for any action you intend to take.

IELTS General Reading Test

You decide if and when you need to adjourn for a break and what tactics are working and if you need to change your approach. If the employee feels he/she has gained the upper hand then the meeting might not achieve its purpose.

Remember the conversation is not about finding winners and losers. Be prepared to negotiate, particularly if the employee is acknowledging the problem, ready to reach a compromise or is working to agree a way forward. Finding a mutually agreeable solution to many problems can allow both parties to feel as though their opinions have been acknowledged and taken into account.

Many managers feel that the nature of the encounter forces them to act out of character — perhaps appearing more strict and business-like than in normal, day-to-day interactions. Though it can be tempting to enter a meeting wanting to be liked and to maintain a close friendship with the employee, most conversations are more likely to succeed if you adopt a professional manner.

IELTS General Reading Test

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

15. What is the key factor in dealing with difficult conversations?

A. Maintaining an open mind

B. Staying in control

C. Keeping good intentions

D. Managing emotions

16. Who is the person most likely to be responsible for deciding to have a difficult conversation with a member of staff?

A. The Human Resources manager

B. The senior manager

C. The staff member’s supervisor

D. The staff member’s line manager

IELTS General Reading Test

17. What can managers look for to help catch problems early?

A. Speaking regularly with staff

B. Keeping tabs on attendance figures

C. Monitoring lateness

D. Checking for conflict in the workplace

18. Why is a personal meeting an effective way to deal with a problem?

A. The meeting can be recorded

B. The employee in question sees that the manager feels the problem is important

C. The employee might not be engaged with email or a phone call

D. The employee’s body language can be read

IELTS General Reading Test

19. What can happen if the employee feels that he/she has an advantage in the meeting?

A. Managers’ tempers can flare

B. The employee might make unreasonable demands

C. The meeting could lose its effectiveness

D. The manager might need to call in more support

20. Why is a formal approach usually a better strategy in a difficult conversation?

A. It looks better if the problem later goes to mediation

B. The conversation will probably be more effective

C. Most employees take advantage of a friendly manager

D. Employees feel they’re being taken more seriously

IELTS General Reading Test

Thinking about a Franchise?

Want to be your own boss, but not willing to take on the risk of starting your own business from scratch? Franchising can be a great alternative if you want to have some guidance in the start-up phase of the business. A franchise or chain is a business model that involves one business owner licensing trademarks and methods to an independent entrepreneur.

There are two primary forms of franchising. Product/trade name franchising is when the franchisor owns the right to the trademark and sells that right to a franchisee. Business format franchising is when the franchisor and franchisee have an ongoing relationship, and the franchisor often provides a full range of services, including site selection, training, product supply, marketing plans and even assistance in obtaining financing.

IELTS General Reading Test

Before you decide to franchise, you need to do your research. You could lose a significant amount of money if you do not investigate a business carefully before you buy. By law, franchise sellers must disclose certain information about their business to potential buyers. Doing your homework about the franchise first will help you gain a solid understanding of what to expect as well as the risks that could be involved.

Know What You are Getting Into Before entering into any contract as a franchisee, you should make sure that you would have the right to use the franchise name and trademark, receive training and management assistance from the franchisor, use the franchisor’s expertise in marketing, advertising, facility design, layouts, displays and fixtures and do business in an area protected from other competitors.

IELTS General Reading Test

Research the Training When you buy a franchise, you’re paying for the right to use the franchisor’s proprietary systems. However, you won’t be able to use any of these systems unless you know how to use them. That’s where the franchisors’ formal training program comes in. Call existing franchisees of the franchise concept you’re thinking of buying and ask them to share their views on the training they received.

Watch Out for Possible Pitfalls The contract between the two parties usually benefits the franchisor far more than the franchisee. The franchisee is generally subject to achieving quotas and has to purchase equipment, supplies and inventory exclusively from the franchisor.

IELTS General Reading Test

Find Out about Possible Earnings You’ll probably want to know how much money you can make if you invest in a particular franchise. A franchisor isn’t required to disclose information about potential income or sales. If it does, the law requires it to have a reasonable basis for the claim when it’s made. Be sure to ask the franchisor for written substantiation that supports the claim. The franchisor is required to provide this if you ask.

An accountant can help you determine whether the claims are reasonable, and if they apply to how you plan to operate your business. Franchisors often don’t have data about their franchisees’ net profits. If you get profit information, ask if it’s based on information from company-owned outlets. Company-owned outlets often have lower costs because they can buy equipment, inventory and other items in larger quantities and therefore at lower prices.

IELTS General Reading Test

Seek Professional Help Franchises are often complex, and a specialist in franchise law should assist you to evaluate the taxation considerations. An accountant may be needed to determine the full costs of purchasing and operating the business as well as to assess the potential profit.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

21. The right to use a ……………………… is granted in product/trade name franchising.

22. It’s important to understand the potential ……………………… of a franchise, so make sure that all information is taken from the franchise seller.

IELTS General Reading Test

23. Make sure before buying that you have the right to do business in areas where other……………………… are operating.

24. Liaise with ……………………… to research the effectiveness of the franchisor’s training.

25. Franchise contracts often specify that the franchisees must meet ……………………… .

26. You should request ……………………… in writing for any financial information disclosed to you by a franchisor.

27. ……………………… issues should be examined by someone with professional franchise law experience.

IELTS General Reading Test

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BEST IELTS General Reading Test 435

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IELTS General Reading Test

15. B

16. D

17. A

18. B

19. C

20. B

21. TRADEMARK

22. RISKS

23. COMPETITORS

24. EXISTING FRANCHISEES

25. QUOTAS

26. SUBSTANTIATION

27. TAXATION

IELTS General Reading Test

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