What is not addressed will continue.
I have heard many leaders at different leadership levels in different organizations complain. Behind closed doors, leaders who are dissatisfied with the performance of their team spend a lot of time complaining and gossiping about people in the organization. The problem is that these types of leaders spend more time complaining about the problem than searching for a solution. They return to their workplace hoping that something may be different, but change is not magical; change is the result of deliberately identifying a problem and addressing it with a solution-oriented mindset and an action plan. Problems that are not addressed will continue.
People do not change things they do not see as a problem.
Leaders are often in their position because they are visionaries. They are big picture people. It may even be hard for them to accept that many on their team do not have that vision. Team members may not see the ripple affect of their behavior and performance on the rest of the team, the rest of the organization, or the people that the organization serves. As a result, leaders have the responsibility to address problems that they identify because the employees who are committing the offenses may not be aware that their behavior or performance is not acceptable. An employee who is a drain to the company culture probably does not believe that about themselves. A person will not work to fix something that they have never seen as broken. It is the leader’s responsibility to call attention to the behaviors that do not meet their standards of practice.
Why do we avoid critical conversations?
There are many reasons why leaders avoid critical conversations. Some leaders like to avoid conflict. They may desire to preserve the false sense of calm and collegiality that is in their team. This is fallible thinking because unchecked team member behaviors erode positive company culture. Other leaders are fearful of losing team members. They believe that everyone they confront will resign and they will be stuck trying to fill vacant positions. This is fallible thinking because a leader should not want that kind of person on the team anyway. Lastly, some leaders just want to be liked. They are fearful that they will lose the favor of their team if they must chastise or reprimand. This is fallible thinking because most team members desire to be properly led. When a performing team member observes another team member’s poor behavior go unchecked, it is demotivating and perpetuates doubt in the leader’s ability to lead.
How do you have a critical conversation?
A critical conversation does not have to be confrontational, but it should be direct. These conversations should be held face-to-face, if possible. A colleague once told me, if an email draft reaches a third paragraph, it means a conversation should be had instead. Critical conversations should not be conducted via email. Also, these conversations should be planned and scheduled in advance. This ensures that interruptions and distractions are limited, and the other party recognizes the seriousness of the conversation to be had.
In traditional feedback sessions, we are often encouraged to temper constructive feedback with positive feedback. This is not necessarily the case in critical conversations. You do not want your message to be lost or watered down by positive praise that may be irrelevant to the subject at hand. You must be direct without being severe, but you cannot waver in your expression of your standards and expectations.
During critical conversations, it is important to reference previously conveyed rules, policies, procedures, and expectations if possible. Feelings and emotions can be argued, standards of practice cannot. In instances when the unacceptable behavior is more subjective, such as negative attitudes, try to identify specific behaviors that reflect the negative attitude and refer to concrete examples of how the unacceptable behavior impacts others or the organization.
What is the result of the critical conversation?
The ideal result of a critical conversation is changed behavior. In a perfect scenario, the other party realizes the gravity of their behavior and immediately works to correct it. Alternatively, the other party may not agree about the views of their behavior or performance, but they recognize that their leader does not approve so they will conform. Conversely, a person may rebel, lash out, or leave. As a leader, you must be okay with someone’s disgruntled exit. What that means is that they are not responsive to leadership, do not demonstrate a growth mindset, and cannot conform to the norms and standards set by your organization. Ultimately, that person is not an asset to your team, no matter how talented they may be.
If you would like coaching in critical conversations, I would be happy to help! Contact me today to schedule a free consultation!
The word toxic is used frequently to describe behaviors, relationships, and environments, but what does it mean? The word toxic literally means poisonous, but when used in this way, it refers to the undesirable, destructive, and detrimental characteristics of something that drain and damage those that encounter it. How do you know if you work in a toxic environment? Here are a few indicators:
Workplace culture is the leader’s responsibility. A leader has the choice to create the workplace culture or accept and perpetuate a culture that develops on its own. If a toxic work environment exists, then the leader either created that culture through their behavior or allowed other employees to create the toxic culture. In either scenario, the leader has failed, and their team suffers.
If you are a leader that recognizes that your workplace culture is toxic, it is important that you become the catalyst for change. Addressing your own toxic leadership traits is the first step to shifting the culture. Set the example by cultivating authentic relationships with all employees on your team, not just a select few. Actively seek to collaborate and receive feedback from subordinates. Communicate positively and welcome new ideas. Effective, sustainable change begins with the leader!
If you are a leader and would like coaching and support to change your organizational culture, I would be happy to assist! Contact me today!
Many of us have been there. Your supervisor is breathing down your neck and monitoring your every move. You can’t make a move without checking in first, you have to justify every decision, and every moment of your day has to be reported. You feel like you are being smothered, your creativity is stifled, and you are sure that you are being micromanaged. What can you do?
When we are being micromanaged by a leader, it is not uncommon to begin to wonder if your leader doubts your ability to fulfill your role. You may begin to feel undervalued or simply fed up and frustrated that you are not given the space to do your job. Before you quit or have a confrontation with your supervisor, consider the following steps:
Use this opportunity to build rapport with your supervisor and to demonstrate professionalism. No one appreciates being micromanaged so as you move up in leadership, remember to offer the same freedom to your team that you need to get the job done.
During this time of year, people often reflect on the things that they are grateful for. Often, those “things” are material things or circumstances. This year, I practiced telling the people around me that I am grateful for them and why. I use this approach as a leader to express gratitude for my team members and decided to apply this to my personal life. My conclusion is that this attitude is beneficial in all areas of my life!
As an employee and team member, I have been in situations where I felt undervalued, underappreciated, and taken for granted. I believed that the leaders around me treated me like I was expendable and the employees as interchangeable. I vowed as a leader that I would never intentionally make my team feel that way. When I became a leader, I made sure that my team knew that I valued their skill set, experience, and expertise. I let them know that it mattered to me and the organization if they stayed or left and that I wanted them to continue to be a part of the team.
If you would like to take steps to show gratitude to those around you, try these strategies:
As a leader, I recognize that it is an honor and great responsibility to lead others. Without followers, there is no leader. I am thankful for all those, past and present, that have allowed me to lead them in any capacity. It is truly a pleasure!
We have a tendency to romantacize the past, especially when our present isn't ideal. Some people believe that their high school days were their best ever or that college was the best time of their life. Others long for past loves or mourn over material things that they have lost along the way. It can be tempting to try and recreate the past as a solution to a present slump. There's a saying that you can never step into the same river twice. That's because the water is always moving and changing the river so that, even if you returned to the exact same spot where you once stood, the river is still not the same. The river has changed and so have you.
We have to be careful not to spend to much time looking backwards and keep moving forward, no matter how wonderful the past used to be. A mindset of a true visionary is that your best days are yet to come! This means that we often have to let go of strategies and systems that no longer meet the needs of us, our businesses, or our teams. Saying, "Well, that's how we have always done it" is an excuse for a lack of innovation, creativity, and efficiency. Instead, practice the strategy of continuous improvement. A true leader is a life-long learner that is willing to re-assess, re-focus, and re-strategize!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you determine how to keep moving forward:
If you would like help or support in implementing a process of continuous improvement for yourself or with your team, give me a call!
During the holiday season, leaders may notice that their teams may not be as productive as they are during other times of the year. This may be an issue that is dependent upon the industry, but can affect any organization or team at any time. Some of the contriburing factors for decreased productivity during the holiday season include;
There are not many jobs that do not require teamwork in some way, shape, or form. As a leader, it is especially important to function well in a team and help the teams you supervise to function effectively. One of the keys to successful team performance is building a diverse, complementary team. How do you do that?
Each team member will bring their personality, experience, and talents to the team. As a leader, you may have a tendency to hire people that are like you. It's a natural tendency because we will see in others what we admire in ourselves. The danger in that is your team will have all of your strengths and ALL of your weaknesses! On the other hand, when teams are diverse, strengths and weaknesses are balanced. Here are three types of people who you definitely want to have on your team:
Strengths: This team member likes to get things done. They keep the group on task and focused on the goal at hand. They do not like to waste time and take pride in accomplishments, big or small. The doer takes action and gets results.
Weaknesses: Doers tend to move quickly, sometimes too quickly. Rather than analyzing all options available, they may jump on the first idea for the sake of getting things done. Doers may make other team members feel rushed. Doers are often impatient with others who do not move as quickly as they do.
Strengths: This team member does not make a decision until all options have been identified and analyzed. Thinkers conduct research and look for examples to follow. Thinkers may play "devil's advocate" to help identify the weaknesses in a plan so that they can be addressed up front rather than after implementation. Thinkers plan out the details and write them down.
Weaknesses: Thinkers are often perceived as slow or indecisive. They may spend too much time planning and not enough time doing. Thinkers irritate doers.
Strengths: This team member is the champion of the team. They provide encouraging words and respond to the social and emotional needs of group members. Cheerleaders stay positive and highlight the strengths in others. They help doers and thinkers to get along. (This team member usually advocates for snacks and refreshments at meetings!) Cheerleaders often make the interpersonal connections necessary to make plan implementation effective. They are the "people-person".
Weaknesses: Cheerleaders can be seen as wishy-washy and touchy-feely. They will go along with the ideas of doers or thinkers and may feel guilty about picking sides. Cheerleaders can be overly emotional and can seem distracted or off-task. They may have issues with time management and make team meetings run long.
Every team member has strengths and weaknesses, but an effective team acknowledges these and balances them. Is your team dysfunctional? Contact me for a team assessment!
My son is in middle school and decided to play on the footbal team this year. When I picked him up from school today, he was upset. He explained to me that some boys left the gym and locker room a mess during the morning athletic period. For punishment, the boys had to do a "snake" drill and run the length and width of the football field in 5-yard increments. My son was upset because his schedule had not been changed yet, so he didn't have the morning athletic period and was not responsible for the mess that was made, yet he had to suffer the consequences. I explained to him that a team is a team through good and bad. You win as a team and you lose as a team. Maybe his teammates would keep that in mind before they decided to trash the gym again.
When we work in teams, it feels good to share the praise and accolades that the team receives when it does well. But, as leaders, we have to remember that the desire to share also must apply to team losses. When teams suffer a loss, it's a knee-jerk reaction to try to point fingers and shift the blame to an individual person or department. Finding a scapegoat on the team to explain poor performance undermines the spirit of teamwork and chips away at positive organizational culture. Leaders can set the example by praising teams as a whole for successes and addressing poor performance with the entire team rather than just a team leader or a weak link.
Here are some ways to build capacity in work teams so that they are willing and able to share both wins and losses:
Sports teams are excellent examples of teamwork and sharing wins and losses. Translating these same principles to a business organization can foster unity and productivity. I'm grateful that my son is learning this lesson sooner rather than later.