Articles tagged "Necessary Conversations"
If you haven’t read it yet, read Adam Bryant’s latest book: Quick and Nimble – Lessons from Leading C.E.O.’s on How to Create a Culture of Innovation. His insights are important for my readers and clients because they so nicely echo several core leadership concepts I share with my clients during my programs or executive coaching sessions with them.
In his book, Bryant covers six key ideas to create a culture of innovation and nimbleness. I’ll list Bryant’s terms and then mine:
Create a Simple Plan.
I’ve been saying for years: Create clear, concise strategic plans that are not open to interpretation. They provide you and your team with the focus you need and minimize the potential for team members to guess at what is expected. Your team members will know specifically what they’re working towards and can better leverage their efforts in helping you get to your vision.
Create Rules of the Road.
I call organizational values “The House Rules.” They work the same way as do the rules of your home. If you don’t like the rules of my house, fine. Go home. If you don’t like the organization’s values, fine. Work someplace else. Keep in mind, as long as you’re taking a paycheck from the company, by default, you’re agreeing to abide by the values.
Demonstrate a Little Respect.
I tell my clients: You hired adults. Treat them as such. Your employees often have families, homes, and are active members in their communities and places of worship. Treat them as adults with skills and talents at work too.
Remember It’s About the Team.
I often share with younger management teams: You were hired for a reason and it wasn't because someone loved you. It was because you were anticipated to bring various talents and characteristics to complement the team in driving the organization toward the vision. It’s about the team and what it needs to succeed; not you.
Have Adult Conversations.
My clients know these well as I have my clients call these Necessary Conversations™. These types of conversations typically need to happen quickly and may not necessarily be about immature or unprofessional behaviors. Therefore, I don’t particularly agree with the term Adult Conversations. The need for the conversation could be because of a technical skill weakness. Not an immaturity or lack of professionalism issue. Therefore, I call them Necessary Conversations™ as they need to happen to enable the team member to correct the behavior, acquire the additional skills, or choose to work elsewhere - whatever the case may be.
Avoid the Hazards of Email.
I’m all about Leadership Accountability and not hiding from issues that leaders need to address and clear so the team can move forward. So, I encourage and have my clients practice in-person conversations. Either one-on-one or one-to-group to discuss heated or confusing issues – not hide behind a flamer of an email.
Can the above help leaders become more nimble. Sure. But they’ll also help leaders simply be better people and stronger role models for others too.
- Why is it so hard for so many managers to simply talk with their employees about less-than-expected performance?
- Why do so many managers become mean when they simply need to make employees aware their behaviors are taking them down the path towards disciplinary actions or possibly -- termination?
- Why do so many managers default to "attack mode" instead of "talk mode" to tell employees they are performing in unacceptable ways?
From my experience, the reasons vary. However, there are two very common reasons. The first reason is that managers tend to model "disciplinary" behaviors they've seen or experienced themselves. They model snarky, sneaky (i.e., passive-aggressive), or just plain mean behaviors in attacking, belittling, and demeaning the employees who have frustrated them. They equate letting employees know they're performing in unacceptable ways with slamming the employees. They take a sledgehammer approach instead of a highlighter approach to make the employees aware they're performance is not acceptable. They attack in a big way instead of teach with insight.
The second most common reason for the attack mode I see is: Fear. Fear of having a "difficult conversation" with an employee. The manager anticipates a potentially, emotion-filled interaction that may result in hostility, tears, yelling, or hurt feelings. So, to "gear up" for such an interaction, many managers put on their "attack gear." They get themselves worked up emotionally and mentally. They hold off meeting with employees until they have several examples of poor behavior so they can build a strong case against the employee. Their own frustration level increases because the employees "just continue to perform poorly." They attack with proof instead of teach with small, incremental examples along the way.
So what should you do when your employees do not perform as expected or in unacceptable ways? Tell them right away. Tell them immediately when you see them do something that is clearly unacceptable. If they're violating some policy, procedure or law, You obviously need to deal with that immediately. However, if your employees are underperforming or behaving in ways that will lead them astray, tell them. Clue them in. Talk with them regularly so they become aware, but more so, so they get comfortable with you regularly refocusing and guiding them. If they only hear from you when you've built a case against them, why shouldn't they feel blind-sided? Why shouldn't they get defensive and possibly become hostile or have hurt feelings? You set them up. Talk with them regularly. Don't attack them.
I've shared this idea before, but I'll share it again because I've seen it work with many of my clients. If you do nothing else, stop thinking of conversations with your employees about unacceptable performance as "difficult conversations." That term alone brings to mind the anxiety and negative emotions outlined above. Instead, think of conversations you need to have with your employees about their performance as "Necessary Conversations." They're necessary because you need to clue your employees in now. They're necessary because if they don't occur, your employees are likely to continue down an unacceptable path of behavior. They're necessary because it's part of your job to teach, inform, refocus, and guide your employees - not slam them. They're necessary because they'll help you talk with your employees instead of attack your employees.
Copyright MMXIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
Take a look around your office. Look at your desk. Look at your email In-Box. As you look at the various piles of papers and streams of emails, ask yourself, "What am I dodging? What am I trying to delay? What problems, issues, or projects am I finding excuses to avoid? From what am I intentionally (Though I claim it's unintentional) hiding?"
If you're getting nervous by any of the questions above, you're probably avoiding Procrastination Leadership. Procrastination Leadership is a term I've coined to describe that leadership trait that causes effective leaders to address what others fear; to initiate what others avoid; and to complete what others delay. It's that characteristic of overcoming your innate desire to continue to stall, because you've identified those things that are important enough to stay on your To Do list, even though you've been avoiding them. It's that ability to instead tell yourself, "I'm the leader. It's my job to do something about this." Then choosing to forge ahead and do it. It's deciding to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done.
Procrastination Leadership addresses things such as:
- Having Necessary Conversations with under-performing staff
- Holding meetings with antagonistic colleagues to clear the air and achieve understanding
- Reviewing difficult documents, texts, and reports to wade through the heavy material so you can move it to the next person waiting for the information
- Sitting down with team members to layout needed project plans or revamp poorly-performing projects
- Meeting with board members to clarify roles, responsibilities, and boundaries
- Working on tasks expected of a leader instead of working on those that should be handled by staff
Procrastination Leadership is recognizing and then acting upon those various difficult tasks that you, as a leader, are charged with handling; those tasks that you are being paid to address; and those tasks your strong team members have been waiting for you to address.
Don't make them wait any longer. Take on Procrastination Leadership and become the leader others need you to be.
Copyright MMXIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com