Why a Crucial Conversation is the Answer
If you are a leader and have the responsibility of coordinating a team or a department or even a group of volunteers, I bet you have someone in the group who is a challenge…
maybe they show up late and leave early-repeatedly
maybe they are bossy and no one but NO ONE is willing to work with them
maybe they spend too much on any given project and somehow never quite get finished or
maybe they finish quickly, really quickly and it is half done
What do you do? Here’s what usually happens:
You drop hints about the problem and hope they get it and decide to improve on their own
You sympathize with the other team members but pass the buck and hope someone else will deal with it.
You ignore it and pray that they miraculously improve on their own.
You see if you can transfer them to another department.
As you might imagine these are all behavior hacks that don’t work. Soon not only do you have one team member who is under-performing but the whole team is demoralized and unmotivated. Much as leaders might dislike facing the problem head on, it’s time for that crucial conversation. Here’s what a crucial conversation is: a dialogue (yes a two way conversation) where there are: high emotions, high stakes, and differing opinions. Sound like a recipe for disaster? It doesn’t have to be. As the authors of the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High write, it is the only hope of actually solving the problem rather than sweeping it under the rug.
The first step to a crucial conversation is to determine what the authors call a shared pool. Here’s how:
Identify a common goal or intention— What can we agree on? What is a common concern? What is a common rallying point?
Create a safe environment where everyone’s views can be heard–Check your ego at the door and model this for all involved. Instead of being judgmental or accusatory, be curious. Ask questions: How could we make that happen? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of that? How can I help? What do you see as the problem?
Recognize that you can’t change anyone, but yourself–You can’t make someone do what you want. You can’t make them change their personality or their behavior. You can however create an environment of accountability. Make sure that everyone recognizes the consequences of their actions. If we don’t make a profit then… If the job isn’t finished by the deadline then… If you come in late every day, then… Solicit everyone’s help in making the environment one where all are encouraged to do their best and be their best.
Decide making a difference is more important than making a point–Put aside desires for punishing, winning or distancing yourself from the other participants. Focus on having a conversation where all can agree that a shared goal was established and a plan created to move forward.
Looking for a way to train your staff in crucial conversations? Let’s talk:
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Lynne Watts is a dynamic, innovative speaker. She brings a fresh perspective to familiar topics and creates exciting new material that sparkles and shines. Her friendly, engaging style makes an instant connection with any audience. Lynne teaches, entertains and inspires. Sara Armstrong