Scary Conversations

Guest post by Torrey Owens, President / Founder Strategic Development Associates, LLC

As a leadership coach and facilitator, I often hear leaders’ challenges in dealing with non-performers and how hard it is for them to talk to the person about it.  As they replay the series of events, their frustration level escalates when describing how it impacts them and the other team members.  They share “I saw the signs and I should of … but I didn’t” and how long they avoided the situation.  A recent poll conducted by VitalSmarts on the scariest work conversations provides interesting communication stats.

  • 70% avoid scary conversations with their boss, coworker, or direct report.
  • 38% say the scariest topics to discuss are broken promises, violated expectations, or competence concerns.
  • 34% have put off holding scary conversations for at least a month.
  • Nearly one in four have put off a scary conversation for more than a year. (Wow!!)

As you can see leaders are not alone.  However, acceptance for the norm isn’t a place my coaching clients want to be.  They want to be the best leader they can be.  As they assess their current barriers to scary conversations, they realize their real frustration is with themselves on how they avoided or mishandled the non-performer situation.

This level of self awareness is critical to gaining the courage and proper skills to take action in delivering performance feedback.  Leaders are not condemned to be the “avoider” of tough conversations.  Oftentimes simply identifying and understanding the problem is the greatest step taken in resolving it.

Conversation Tips:

1. Address the non-performing behavior(s) with the employee.  Do your homework to be able to explain the specific behaviors to address.
2. Redirect or renegotiate the goals / expectations, if needed.
3. Provide direction and support to get performance back on track.
4. Monitor performance.
5. Give feedback and praise progress.

Avoidance speaks just as loud (if not louder) than taking responsibility to have the tough / scary conversations. May you continue to have leadership courage to face the tough situations that illicit fear or discomfort; and the wisdom and integrity to do what’s right for those you serve.

Copyright © protected, Strategic Development Associates, LLC all rights reserved worldwide. Torrey Owens

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