One of the most common challenges that leaders face is having difficult conversations with underperforming employees. And therein lies the problem! Who wants to have a difficult conversation? As soon as we think of something as difficult, or hard, we don’t want to do it. That’s the nature of being human.
Get rid of the word difficult from your vocabulary. It trips you up. It’s a challenge to get your arms around. Try powerful, or straight, or honest, as healthy alternatives. Straight, honest conversations build trust. Powerful conversations empower people.
You have a challenge, something that you want to address but don’t know how to address, something that needs addressing. And you don’t want a confrontation. So have a conversation. Confrontation
usually happens when you have waited too long to have a conversation: you’re hot under the collar, frustrated, unhappy, and all those feelings and emotions are conveyed to the employee. Instead of waiting until you’re irritated, spend a little time framing your thoughts in to a constructive and helpful conversation.
What end result do I want? I always include some focus on the end result I want for the relationship, as well as the performance outcome I am looking for.
How do I want the experience to be for myself, and for the other party? I want the experience to be one of freedom and ease, trust and relatedness.
How will we measure the results we are now (both) working toward? This will ensure that you have clarified what’s expected and the employee also has a good understanding of what success means. Having these powerful and constructive conversations might be uncomfortable initially, but like any new habit, practice builds the muscle and soon it will be a more natural response to whatever situation you are dealing with.
Being self-expressed is an essential component of leadership. Inspiration is also essential, because without it you will always be climbing uphill and motivation will be missing.