Recently, I was speaking with a leader that runs a very successful department inside a very large company. This leader is like most leaders that I work with. They put in the hours. Working hard is who they are. In speaking with them they have very brash and direct opinions on any topic related to people, business processes, politics, leadership, their company, etc.
This leader has made it to their level in the organization through years of hard work and a commitment to the organization. Through all of their successes and self-confidence in themselves, the one area they struggle with is holding people accountable quickly and efficiently when they have to.
In this leaders case, they are around and constantly crossing paths with the person on their team who they need to address some performance or behavioral issues with. I have even seen in some organizations I have worked with, that a leader will go to lunch everyday with the person who they need to have a conversation with, and still wont do it.
I see this play out over and over in organizations everywhere that I work with. Leaders who won’t have direct conversations with employees who are struggling in delivering results or have some behavioral issue that is causing problems in the workplace.
Having spent many years in higher education, I see this condition even more so there with leaders.
Why is that? I think there could be several reasons. But here are a few.
Who really likes conflict? Nobody does. We spend most of our life trying to avoid conflict. If you want to be an effective leader, you have to embrace the conflict. You have to be willing to address the conflict head on and know that it is better to address the conflict than to avoid it. Most leaders have never learned this in their life. So by the time they get in to leadership, they have spent years avoiding conflict and they try to keep doing it.
If you agree, that most of us avoid conflict, which means by the time we get in to leadership positions we are really programmed to avoid it. Then there is only one way to fix this issue.
We must get training on how to handle conflict. Training starts with concepts and processes on how to address conflict. After learning, we must practice these processes and concepts of having conversations with people about behavioral and performance issues. This training and practice is essential because it provides you more self-confidence. By learning and practicing, self-confidence is developed.
Once you learn a process and practice it, you can now actually use it in a “real world” situation. And once you start practicing it in “real world” situations, you will be come better at it.
I tell people who I coach and train this: You should never have a conversation with an employee regarding performance or behavioral issues, until you have had the conversation with someone else. Which means you should practice your conversation before you do it live. Practice with your boss, practice with a peer, practice with your spouse, or someone else. The key is to practice it.
You should never have the conversation until you have had the conversation. If you don’t have the conversation before the conversation, then you should never have the conversation.
Repeat that over and over.
Practicing that conversation will provide a leader the confidence they need. Additionally, they can get some feedback from who ever they practiced it with about how it sounded.
If you are in leadership and you have some leaders on your team that are struggling with doing this, or if it is even you who are struggling with it. What is preventing you from doing it? Is is that you don’t have the self-confidence? What else could it be?
When you don’t address these issues, you are sending a message that everything is okay. This message is being heard by the employee and by everyone else in the organization. You have to take control of the message.
If you are interested learning how to do this more effectively reach out to me. Lets have a conversation.
To your success and your future.