Given the nature of the economy and the state of many businesses right now, unfortunately leaders are finding themselves having to have performance discussions with employees more and more. As I have scoped the landscape of a lot of these leaders, the ability or the skills to have the difficult conversations with employees regarding performance still appear to be something that is difficult.
And when I say difficulty, I do not mean being able to address data (i.e., sales numbers, customer service scores, etc.), I am speaking of leadership skills. Leaders are struggling with how to communicate deficiencies in leadership/communication skills and furthermore, how to develop those skills.
As the workforce and workplace continue to evolve, the ability to have crucial conversations is a must. Ignoring these situations is not acceptable and doing so will only cause more frustration both for the employer and the employee. So how can you close the skill gap with managerial courage?
Addressing the Skill Gap
Addressing this skill gap with leaders isn’t easy because you cannot just make someone like conflict and able to flip the switch to feel comfortable discussing a conflict with someone else. To aid in developing this skill, I had come up with a number of methods one can utilize back in April 2012, below at my personal blog, XtremeHR:
- Bring solutions; don’t always just say something is wrong and not have a potential solution
- Ensure information is accurate before raising the issue
- Practice your message before delivering to others
- Don’t make it personal – stick to the facts and deliver a message that serves a purpose of helping the individual
- Deliver messages timely and in private
- Address situations – don’t be afraid to disagree with something if it doesn’t make sense
- Be sure to provide a balance of both positive and negative feedback over time
In addition to the methods above, here are some additional tips to utilize:
- Practice strategic thinking; be able to think 12-18 months out through knowing how both negative and positive implications performers can make to the vision of where the organization, department, and team are moving
- When these difficult conversations occur, be able to tie the conversation to the longer term picture through initial short term activities which can begin to close the gaps
- To keep conversations on pace and to the point, as indicated above, it is crucial to practice your message before delivering to others. However, practice sometimes isn’t a month by yourself. Therefore, utilize tools such as the GROW model or DDI’s discussion planner to assist in planning these out
- Ask questions to continue to gather the most accurate information regarding the situation, but also to stur creativity and innovation. Sometimes people need to see things and varied perspectives – asking thought-provoking questions pushes people to get beyond the norm. Create constructive tension which can drive results
I understand difficult conversations are not simple, but the more practice you get, the more versed this skill will become. If you want to talk through this or get some assistance, give me a shout. I would love to help!
What are You Seeing?
Do you see this skill gap with leaders in your organization? What about managers as a whole?
What are some methods you are utilizing to address the skill gap?