3 Steps for Managers Preparing for Difficult Conversations

April 30, 2019 by  

During times of budget challenges, uncertainty in the industry, and changes in procedures or systems, supervisors might be experiencing an increase in the number of difficult conversations they need to have with their staff. These could include delivering bad news about an employee’s job, informing staff about work restructuring, describing changes to current procedures or systems or discussing other complicated and stressful work situations. In order to ensure that these exchanges are handled as well as possible and generally result in good outcomes, the following steps should be considered.
1. Prepare for the conversation
• Before opening the conversation, ask yourself several key questions. You may also want to consult with your Human Resources person, peers, or other appropriate resources to be sure you are comfortable with the answers.

Key questions include:
‐ What is the purpose of having this conversation?
‐ What do I hope to accomplish?
‐ What would be the ideal outcome?
‐ What assumptions am I making about the other person’s reaction to the conversation?
‐ What “hot buttons” could exist – for me and for the other person?
‐ How is my attitude toward the conversation contributing to the intended outcome?

Practice the conversation. You can mentally rehearse it in your mind, or practice it out loud with your supervisor, Employee Assistance Program, or Human Resources Manager. Get feedback on how they think this will play out with the approach you are using.

2. Arrange the conversation
• A successful outcome will depend on two things: what you say and how you say it. How you approach the conversation and how you behave will greatly influence what you say and how it is perceived. You must stay calm, honest, and respectful during the conversation.

• Acknowledge any emotional energy that might be fueled by the conversation. The emotional content is as important as the facts and must also be addressed.

• Keep aligned and focused on the purpose of your conversation. Don’t be distracted by side tracks.

• Suggestions for opening the conversation might include:
‐ I’d like to talk to you about. . .
‐ I want to better understand your point of view. Can we talk more about. . .
‐ I’d like to talk about ________. I think we may have different ideas on how to ______.

3. Working Toward a Successful Outcome
• Approach the conversation with an attitude of inquiry and discovery. Set aside assumptions and try to learn as much as possible about the other person’s point of view.

• Let the employee complete what they have to say without interruption. Then give them feedback to show that you respectfully listened and understood their point of view. You don’t necessarily have to agree however, you need to remain open-minded regarding their perspective. Saying “it sounds like this issue is very important to you” doesn’t mean that you have to decide the way they would like you to.

• Advocate for your position without diminishing theirs. State your position concisely and clarify points they may not have understood.

• End with problem-solving. Try to find mutual areas of agreement on solutions and identify what steps need to be taken to reach the desired outcome. If there seems to be no common ground, then return to the inquiry and ask more questions about their perspective.

If you take this honest, open and respectful approach to the difficult conversation you will be much more likely to end up with a satisfactory outcome for you and the employee.

5 Characteristics of the Perfect Leader

April 1, 2019 by  

Some leaders inspire and motivate, but many fail miserably to engage their employees. Some run a highly effective team, yet their team members live and work in fear. Some are just simply absolute disasters. From the man-eater to the psycho, many industries seems to have created the ultimate formula for the “bad boss” character. With millions of books, DVDs, research papers, and solutions in the business world today, leaders need to figure out how to be effective and successful.

Here is a truth: people quit people, not jobs.
The best leaders became great by taking a genuine interest in each and every team member. Not only do they want their organization to succeed, but they want the individual employee to fulfill their potential because that is a win/win for everyone. Happy employees are hardworking employees who are more efficient, productive, and creative! In addition, because happiness actually enhances one’s immune system, they are also sick less often.

Here are the key skills for the “perfect” leader:
1. Be an Effective Communicator
Effective communication is the most important ability! You need to be able to talk to your team; help them with their goals and the goals of the organization. You need to be able to define what success means to your department and the organization. This can be done daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever suits your team and task list. Weekly meetings keep people tuned in and engaged on what they as a team have to accomplish each week. Apart from team goals, you need to be able to communicate the needs for your employees’ development. There is nothing greater in this world than constructive Encourage them when they do something well, help them when they have a problem and let them know what they need to work on in the future. Your support, encouragement and acknowledgement are key to their success and ultimately to the success of the team as a whole.

2. Lead the Way: “walk the walk”
Often, companies promote a top performer because of previous successes, without ever determining or assessing if that person is actually capable and suited to manage a team. True leaders are able to instill trust, provide appropriate direction, and delegate responsibility. Just because an employee reached a sales goal of one million last quarter does not mean that he or she can manage or lead a team successfully. The perfect leader will be a combination of a top performer with the skills and attributes to lead a team effectively.

3. Be Passionate
The ideal leader should be excited about the organization’s mission, what we are trying to accomplish, and will instill these aims and goals in their team members. This is done with effective communication and modelling of the behaviours necessary to carry out those aims appropriately and successfully.

4. Be a Relationship Builder
Effective leaders spend a significant amount of time and effort building trust, respect, and rapport with their team members. Doing this builds loyalty with employees, makes them feel valued, and in turn, valued employees work harder. Offer a rewards programs, offer to teach them new skills, feed them, and always treat everyone respectfully.

5. Be a Hard Worker
No organization can run like a smoothly operated machine unless everyone knows what is expected of them, what they are responsible for and how to accomplish that. A great leader understands the flow of operations and must be willing to do just as much work as their team members. A successful leader should not ask a team member to do something they would not do themselves. If you model this behaviour you will certainly earn the respect of your team.
Some people are more natural leaders than others, however, anyone who wishes to become a “perfect” leader can do so by learning the skills and behaviours necessary to achieve success as an effective and successful leader.