Nailing those difficult conversations I know you’ve been avoiding

If I had a pound every time I heard a manager say:

‘to be honest, I think it’s the quality of my leadership that’s contributing to their poor performance’…. I’d probably have about £1.30.

But seriously, when things aren’t going to plan, I’m MUCH more likely to hear these phrases:

  • They just need to step up
  • If I could trust them to deliver, I’d delegate more often 😕
  • Everything is a drama with them 🤷‍♀️
  • You’ll notice they’re not the last to leave for the evening, it’s muggins here 😩

The managers using these phrases normally mean well but they’re exasperated.

What they’re really saying is this:

“I don’t have the time to help my team members improve their performance or increase their competence. And I don’t know how to have an accountability conversation that isn’t ineffective or fraught.”

I get it.

Being a people leader is hard and having accountability conversations can be tough, especially if you’re trying to do it all alone.

So I’m going to role play using the Accountability Dial tool from Jonathan Raymond’s excellent book: Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team Is Waiting for.

Here goes.

Someone on your team is always in the middle of (or creating) drama. It’s making delegation impossible.

Start by sharing any specific behaviours or patterns that contribute to how you’re feeling about their performance.

Step 1: The Mention.

“Hey John, I’ve noticed that when you’re involved in team interactions, things tend to become less straightforward and more dramatic than necessary. Have you noticed this as well, and can we discuss how this might be affecting the team’s productivity and collaboration?”

Remember to approach the conversation with curiosity and openness, allowing them to share their perspective and experiences.

If this is enough to change the behaviour, then Bob’s your Uncle and all that. 🦄

But lets imagine the behaviour persists….

Step 2: The Invitation:

“I appreciate our previous conversation about the challenges in team interactions. I’ve noticed that this seems to be a recurring pattern. I’d like to invite you to reflect on how this behaviour might be impacting the team and our work environment. Are you open to exploring this further and discussing potential ways to improve these interactions?”

OK, so you might want to loosen up the language a little, and you should be supportive and non-judgemental – but don’t shy away from being direct.

Sometimes being this candid still doesn’t get results.

And yes, there are two more steps in the The Accountability Dial – and next blog I’ll share them with you.