We've all experienced the stress of difficult conversations; we've angst over when would be the best time to have them ... and in reality we know we're just using timing as an excuse to avoid them completely.
So you need to address that behaviour that's causing everyone to walk on eggshells but you stop yourself because you don't really know how to bring it up and anyway that person's work, in general, is ok ... so perhaps you shouldn't "rock the boat".
You've got that employee that whenever you have a conversation about performance, they really don't participate in the conversation at all, and then they take stress leave the following day!
You have been asked to carry out performance reviews with your team and you're scrambling to think of what to bring up as you try to remember the last time you had these uncomfortable sessions. You're asking yourself if anything positive at all came from the last one and why you have to bother with it at all. You know as much as anyone else that everyone feels awkward about this whole difficult process.
Any of this sound familiar?
Most people don't like confrontation; that feeling when your heart starts to race and you either immediately start sounding aggressive to hide your nervousness, or you soften your voice, expecting the backlash or at least the push back that's about to come. You try desperately to tread the thin line between being confrontational or submissive, attempting to get your message across.
But what if there was a better way? What if you could have a conversation about anything that did not trigger negative emotions? Well you can.
It's really about understanding effective questioning. We're all human beings and as such, we don't like to be told what to do. So rather than making statements that people can push against, have your conversation based on questions that will deliver the outcome that you're wanting, and leave the responsibility with the person who is ultimately responsible for their own behaviour and/or actions.
We're all too eager as managers to answer our own questions: You ask a question; let's say "How are we going to decrease errors?", we then receive about 1.5 seconds of awkward silence and then we start to say "because I was thinking we could ... ..."!
When we do this we just get nodding and agreeing and the ownership of the action remains in our court instead of where it should be!
We need to first get comfortable with the silence and wait for a response. When one starts responding, others will follow.
Using effective questioning processes doesn't come naturally to most because we've not been taught it, however once learned, it can be used effectively, not just in the workplace, but everywhere. We've seen, and used, this process on many occasions and have realised its effectiveness in getting people to willingly "Step In, Step Up, or Step Out".
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.