Thursday, March 11, 2010

5 Keys to Tough Conversations

One leadership characteristic that I need to continually work on is my ability to give critical feedback when people don't perform at a high level. There are multiple reasons I struggle with this (which will not be included in this post), and I know that I will never be an 'axe man' brought in to trim the organizational fat, but there are a few things I've learned that have helped me to develop in this area.
1. Have clear expectations - make sure you repeatedly articulate your expectations in all sorts of situations so there is no excuse or misunderstanding on the other parties part

2. Have facts documented - you want to go into a conversation like this with a crystal clear picture of the problem, and with clear documentation of the unmet expectation

3. Take partners - it is wise to take partners with others and get their perspective on the performance of another party, it also helps to have outside documentation so you can't be accused of have a vendetta

4. Take action quickly - prolonging a hard conversation only increases your anticipation/dread, and give the other party the false idea that they are doing ok

5. Change your perspective - keeping a poorly performing party around is only hurting them, if you know they are not a good fit and never will be, yet you refuse to act, you are doing them more harm than good ans wasting their valuable time

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