For the most part, having a professional caregiver is amazing. You have someone who is there with your children day in and day out, who cares for them almost as much as you do, and who is committed to providing them with a safe and happy environment. But being someone’s boss also means occasionally needing to have tough conversations with your employee, and that’s the one part of having a professional caregiver that no one enjoys.

Preparing to bring up a mistake or offer negative feedback to your caregiver can feel awkward and intimidating. After all, you don’t want them to feel judged and attacked, and you definitely don’t want to sour your relationship. But these conversations are essential to their growth as an employee and to helping your children get the best possible care. So, if you have something you need to get off your chest, take a deep breath! That’s the first step. Then, follow these tips to help make the conversation as painless as possible.

Be straightforward

As difficult or awkward as it may be, it’s important to be clear and concise when giving feedback to an employee. Before you bring up an issue with your caregiver, make sure you are clear in your own mind about exactly why this conversation needs to take place and what you hope will come out of having it. Schedule a time to speak without interruptions and make sure your conversation stays objective and on-topic. And, when you do talk, remember to be respectful and open to discussion.

Be a team

When bringing up any issue, remember to approach the conversation like you’re talking to a teammate, not an adversary. You might feel stressed, upset, or anxious, and that’s okay, but it’s not a good idea to take those emotions out on your caregiver. At the end of the day, both of you should be working together to make sure your children are safe, happy, and healthy. Explain the issue you are having, then have an open discussion about how the problem can be solved.

Use “I” Statements

If you’ve ever gone to couple’s therapy or taken any courses on interpersonal communication, you’ve probably heard the advice to use “I” statements when giving feedback. An “I” statement is basically just a way of describing a problematic behavior and how it makes you feel without resorting to blame, accusation, or judgment. For example, instead of telling them they’re late every day and they need to arrive earlier, you might say something like, “When you aren’t here by 8 a.m. I feel stressed about getting to work on time and I’m often running late. What can we do to help the mornings go more smoothly?”

Ask open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions, such as the one above about making mornings go more smoothly, gives your caregiver a chance to share their perspective on a problem. It also gives them the space to share any personal challenges that might be a contributing factor in their performance and to share potential solutions from their point of view, and it shows that you are interested in having an open and frank conversation.

Be positive

Yes, you might be bringing up something negative, but that doesn’t mean you have to approach it like you’re talking about a looming apocalypse. Relax and think about how you would want an employer to address a potential issue with your own performance at work. Go into the conversation with a positive attitude and a willingness to get the problem solved. You could even include a little bit of praise about things they’re doing well or times they’ve been helpful and successful in addressing past issues to show that you appreciate their ability to be responsive to the needs of your family.