One of the biggest issues facing leaders around the world right now is the avoidance of having the tough conversations. And that includes giving the honest purposeful feedback. Now, some attribute this to having a lack of courage and backbone or simply not wanting to cause conflict. In a world where we actively try to engage our people and create harmonious environments where people willingly want to come to work, they mistakenly feel that having those tough conversations will break the bonds.
It is absolutely the opposite.
Having those tough conversations increases the bonds. It creates healthier organizations. It gives clarity, trust and engagement and actually reduces those problematic behaviours that you in unhealthy organisations. The behaviours like gossiping, the rush to the bottom, passive aggressive behaviour, or that all to common fake YES. You know what I mean, the fake head nodding, where people say yes to your face, and then go and do the opposite, trying to destroy or block what you're trying to achieve.
When we avoid the tough conversations our people see that we're not willing to grow our courage muscles and deal with the problematic behaviours. They see that you're not leading and you're not driving high performance. All too soon they lose respect for you. They see that you are afraid to focus on performance to be honest, they lose trust in you.
And after all, if no one is penalized for doing poor work, or behaving badly, then why should they stick around and try to do their best. So you start to create a really unhealthy culture of mediocrity or false harmony, of disengagement, low trust. Where poor performance is not addressed and is accepted.
Do you really want to be the kind of leader who is famous for welcoming poor performance?
So you need to get over your fear of having those tough conversations. You need to tell your story to your peers or your member staff about what you've seen, what you've experienced, why it matters. Then give them the time to share their story about what's going on in their world, the reasons why they did what they did, or what they believe. Actively listen to understand and you will discover that you can find a way forward together.
When somebody feels like they've been heard and understood, they're more likely to weigh in and buy-in and ultimately commit to an action plan to move forward.
And if there really is a lack of skill, will, or a misaligned values and you've done everything you can get on the same page, then maybe they aren't the right person to be working your organization. One of the bravest things you can do is to let go of somebody who is harming the business and if you're not having those tough conversations, maybe that's you.