Why those tough conversations are best for everyone

Paul weeded out some non-performers in his organisation, and his team breathed a collective sigh of relief. He had exhausted the carrot tactics of encouragement and positive feedback and deferred the stick approach, thinking his team may not approve. But once he acted, they were upbeat and told him it was about time. What Paul had not realised was that there was a rising tide of discontent amongst his team members. The high-performers resented being asked to do more while some of their peers got away with cruising.

In hindsight, Paul realised he had been loading up people he knew he could trust, while tolerating non-performers.

Having the tough conversations is one of the more onerous tasks of leadership. But it is like cleaning the leaves from your gutters around your house; it is messy but things flow better once you do it. Paul had been postponing the tough conversations he needed to have, but he was surprised to find a more positive mood in his team him once he did. It was the best outcome for the team and the organisation.

Susan Scott in her book, Fierce Conversations suggests seven valuable principles of such conversations.

  1. Master the courage to interrogate reality. We are all changing all the time. Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.

  2. Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real. You will accomplish your goals in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.

  3. Be here, prepared to be nowhere else. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person.

  4. Tackle your toughest challenge today. The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path.

  5. Obey your instincts. Don’t just trust your instincts—obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question.

  6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

  7. Let silence do the heavy lifting. Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.

🙋‍♂️ What is your experience of the value of those tough conversations?🙋‍♀️

Best Regards, Brian