tough conversations

Developing A Team Requires Tough Conversations

Getting Clear In Your Mind

Having tough conversations are never easy for any leader, but they are part of taking on the role of being one.

Of course, we would all love to have team members who are brilliant at what they do, who need little to no direction, and who participate well with other team members and our customers and of course never make a mistake.

Wouldn’t our jobs all be a lot easier? Funny thing is, if this were the case, then why would they need you? Ever thought about that?

One of the main roles of any leader is having the skill to know how to develop your team and its individual members. It is not all about sending them on a training course or putting some sort of new work in front of them. Sometimes it requires giving feedback and challenging them in how they are performing. Sometimes it requires having, what seems to be, a tough conversation.

Over and over again I see managers, supervisors and even parents, skirting around this one. Instead, they fall into one of these traps:

  • Talking in generalities and downplaying the effect. (The result is the person doesn’t understand that there is a problem and disregards the conversation.)
  • Talking to the group / team rather than the individual. (The result is that the group doesn’t understand what or who is at issue and doesn’t believe the information applies to them.)
  • Demonstrating what needs to be done but not telling anyone they are doing it. (The result is that unless they know you are showing them how it is to be done, they think it is something that you are just doing and don’t know they are suppose to be paying attention.)
  • Takes on the responsibilities being missed. (The result is you end up doing everything and nothing really gets done well, letting yourself down.)

So, how do you not fall into these traps?

I believe the answer is in how we think about or frame in your own mind, what having a tough conversation is all about. While some people believe it means you are pointing out failure or “coming down on someone”, tough conversations need to be approached from the vantage point of helping someone to succeed.

Here are three things for you to consider:

  • We all start somewhere – While everyone would like to feel accomplished the minute, we start something, this is not realistic. We learn from making mistakes and sometimes falling down. Approaching a tough conversation from the vantage point, we are all hear to learn, will help them to understand that learning is okay and success is about building skills.
  • We don’t know what we don’t know – Experience brings with it the knowledge of some of the pitfalls that can occur and how you can avoid it. Approaching a tough conversation from the vantage point, of sharing your experience, has them aware that there are things to consider. Even if they chose not to heed your advice, they will incorporate the information you provided and hopefully make things better.
  • We only help those we care about – When we have a vested interest in someone, whether that be an employee, child or friend, we want to see them succeed and to avoid failure. It is when we stop caring, we stop talking. Approaching a tough conversation from the vantage point of caring, lets them know that you have their back and that you are cheering them on to success.

The funny thing about tough conversations is they never seem to be as tough, after the fact, as they were before you got started.

Be the type of leader who isn’t afraid to sit down and talk with your people. Be open to receiving feedback from them, so they feel open to having that back-and-forth dialogue. At the end of the day, when you are a leader, you want to see everyone succeed, because then you will know you are as well, but know that to get there you need to be prepared to make those tough conversations, not so difficult to have.

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