As a leader, you need to be able to share both good news and bad news effectively. Unfortunately, sharing bad news about an employee's performance is a major part of running a successful company. If you aren't comfortable telling someone why you're pulling them off a project, why they aren't getting a raise this year, or why their position is being eliminated, the conversation will not go well.
You can't allow under-performance to linger without getting the employee to supply an explanation and work on making a turnaround. Similarly, you can't inform an employee that you've decided not to give him a raise just by not giving it to him. If you're the type of CEO who lets things lie or can't be direct, your team will not respect you as a leader. There's no room to be meek--you need to make a decision and explain it effectively.
"You need to have the right energy going into something like this. If you're coming from a place of frustration--which can happen, we're only human--it will not be a constructive conversation," Betty Thompson, chief personnel officer at Booz Allen Hamilton, tells Harvard Business Review. "You have to think: 'What's the best way for this person to hear the message?'"