We need to have these conversations, even if they are difficult. If you don’t feel like you can hold a difficult or challenging conversation, you are not ready for leadership.
The 4 Things Are…
Joseph Grenny, co found of VitalSmarts and author of numerous books, wrote “4 Things To Do Before a Tough Conversation” for Harvard Business Review. He shares his advice through a fictionalized account of a boss and a low performer.
1) Get your motives right.
It’s easy to put off an important conversation for the apparent sake of keeping the peace, not rocking the row boat, not airing smelly laundry.
If you’ve been procrastinating on a critical conversation, you might consider whether the people on your team feel safe in speaking up. I mention this only because if colleagues feel like one of them is not carrying their weight, that feeling should spark a conversation, even if the boss has been slack about correcting the situation.
Is your office a safe space to speak up?
2) Get your emotions right.
Getting past feeling defensive, angry or hurt is essential, as is avoiding thinking of the situation in terms of villain and victim.
Grenny doesn’t mention this in his article, but in any conflictive situations, I think the person initiating the conversation benefits from acknowledging his or her own responsibility for the unwanted outcomes.
Definitely the boss in his story does not do this.
3) Gather the facts.
Grenny writes, “Gathering the facts is required homework for a healthy conversation.” Getting the facts straight also means being open to the possibility that even after your research, you may not have the whole picture.
4) Get curious. (This is my favorite!)
Curiosity actually makes you more persuasive.
The reason curiosity makes you persuasive is because curiosity leads you to ask questions and listen, rather than spouting off the whole time.
Rewarding Bad Behavior
In his article, the big, rather humongous problem I have is that the boss does not correct the behaviors of a lowball performer, even giving him a succession of raises, for nine long years. The boss is the one who should be fired. IMHO.
What do you think? Get the complete discussion in the podcast episode.