If you’re in Leadership & Development or HR, I can only begin to imagine how many conversations you’ve had in your office (or with individuals on your team) related to complaints about someone else’s behavior.
If that wasn’t bad enough, you then have the additional ache of realizing that those same employees — and potentially your culture as a whole — do not have the needed courage, skill, or even motivation to actually say what needs to be said and to solve the very problem they’re coming to you to fix!
Just so you know: you’re hardly alone!
This is one of the predominant issues we hear from our clients, from L&D/HR folks just like you! And though I could provide you an “answer,” in simply saying, “Hire, Fierce!” I do have a few other thoughts that will provide you some ideas, some respite from the stream of office visits, and most importantly, some results!
Let’s level the playing field to start. All of us, no matter our years of experience, our area of expertise, our seniority — or lack thereof — know that actually talking about what’s going on, naming the problem(s), stepping into conversation IS what is required.
Were we to give a pop quiz and ask everyone, “What is the most important skill you can develop and utilize to strengthen relationships and get things done?” Communicate effectively would be the highest-percentage answer.
Knowing that we should have a difficult conversation is not the problem. Knowing how to have it is — and then having the courage to actually do it!
Short of training your entire company in the how, here are a few *simple* tactics you can use the next time someone enters your office, your cubicle, or your training room hoping you can solve all their problems:
Look at all the training that already exists within your organization, that you’ve already rolled out, that’s implemented and in place. What resources currently exist that people have been exposed to? Leadership development. Basic communication skills. Conflict resolution. Performance management.
Then, let your employees do some self-discovery instead of you being an endless-font of resources. Ask, “What existing training are you aware of that might speak to this issue?” And “What next steps could you take to utilize that training as it relates to this issue?”
We spend a lot — and invest so much — in giving the people in our organizations as many tools as possible to be effective and successful. Somehow, “out of sight, out of mind” reigns and unless we practice what we’ve learned, it slips from our memory and our motivation.
Maximize those investments and refer folks back to all the good work you’ve already done to equip and support them.
Consider ways to intentionally integrate questions into any training you provide (technical, Quality Assurance, new-hire onboarding, anything!) that help learners make connections between the subject matter being taught and the need for communication/conversation related to such.
For example, “Based on what we’re learning today, where, how, and with whom can you engage in conversations that will strengthen adoption?” “If we do not have the ability or willingness to effectively communicate what we’re learning here today, what will the cost be to your team, the organization, and you?” And, “If you could have direct and effective conversations with others about today’s subject matter, what results might you experience? Your team? The organization?”
Though learning how to communicate effectively and having the kinds of conversations that actually get results is critical to a leader’s growth, an organization’s growth, anyone’s growth, we can maximize our focus on such in everything else we train instead of waiting for designated dollars or curriculum.
Pay attention to your well-articulated values, mission statement, and vision. For most organizations, embedded right in the midst of well-crafted words, is a mandate to communicate in proactive and mature ways, to treat others with respect, to choose curiosity, etc.
Again, how do you help them recognize and apply this for themselves? “Which of our corporate values do you feel is at risk given this issue?” “Which aspect of our vision are you struggling to uphold when it comes to this issue?” “What conversations could you have (and with whom) to open up a dialogue about best practices and specific next-steps toward fulfilling this value/vision?”
In all three of these examples, I hope you see (and pluck) some low-hanging fruit. Not surprisingly, my strongest recommendation (and hope on your behalf) is that you can buy the whole orchard, that you can bring in a company that understands your pain, that sees the kinds of issues you are dealing with on a daily basis (and over and over again), that can give your people not just a motivational pitch about “why” communication matters, but the specific, practical, and repeatable “how!”
Oh, the time you’d get back! Oh, the culture you’d shape! And oh, the results you’d drive! But when that isn’t in the cards for you just yet, try these three tips.
At Fierce, we end nearly every one of our workshops with this statement from our founder and CEO, Susan Scott: “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.”
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