Good Leaders Don't Avoid the Hard Talk

Good Leaders Don't Avoid the Hard Talk

When was the last time you told an employee they were screwing up? 

Obviously, it is all in the delivery.  A true leader will deliver it with the right context – the desire for that person to be their best self; giving the person awareness of the area in which they need to improve, or how they are showing up. The employee will then have a choice once you have given them awareness. They can own it and accept that it is true and then do something about it - or do nothing.

When your employee makes a mistake (and from time to time they will) then it is a leader’s obligation to give them awareness - not tiptoe around the subject, but hit it head on … raw and real. Now, you will need to have some tact about you.  Another way to describe the ultimate delivery is to be totally honest, totally kind. Give them awareness, be direct and deliver with a context of bettering the person for the experience.

So here is a question for you: when was the last time you had a frank conversation with an employee that screwed up? If you are in business, then I can tell you that people screw up every day. Communication is the key to a successful business and a great culture. Your team will respect you more for being radical in your candour.

I know it sounds so simple telling business leaders to have those difficult conversations, but it hardly ever happens. The domino effect is that the rest of your leaders, managers, employees are therefore not telling each other when they screw up. No one is communicating about the hard stuff. This is what kills the culture in a business.

As mentioned the delivery is the key. Do it from a caring place and do it directly and you will have a competitive advantage over any other business in your industry. What is the ultimate outcome of being raw and real? You are moving from being an operator to a real business owner. How? The employees of the business will work in an open and supportive environment; and a natural sense of ownership will take over when the business operates with candour around people’s performance. 

Performance reviews take on a different meaning; they become focused on the career path and growth of the employee and a not simply mechanisms to deal with issues of the past. It is similar to your accountant preparing the financial statements six months after the financial year ends for tax and having a discussion about the results of the business … it is useless for helping the business perform and grow. It is only good for tax.

Start today and let your employee know in a totally honest, totally kind way how they have screwed up or if they are showing up in a certain way. 

This opinion piece was featured in the Newcastle Herald

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