Being a consultant, there are countless times when a client is more comfortable sharing critical or even good feedback with us than with their own boss or team.
Many of our clients remark on how much more information we are able to obtain in a day or a week, than they had been able to obtain over several years with the same employees.
Logic would lead you to believe that you should be able to get more from your team. After all, you log more face time with your team, you control their progress through the company, so they should be motivated to share with you. Why then, do the enlightening, game changing, cost reducing insights that your employees have on your process, your leadership style, your team’s workflow, why do they all wait to come to light until you bring in an outside consultant? Why couldn’t your team share this before you hired an outside company?
Sure, as leadership consultants my team has honed our communication skills in approaching these folks for feedback. However, the true reason we glean more much more of the information with shorter time investment is due to the employees feeling more “safe” with us.
The reality is, employees should feel more comfortable with their employers and leaders, but frequently do not. What’s more, employers don’t feel safe discussing the important issues with their employees.
When it is necessary to ask the questions that open up the important conversations that dig into the problems and opportunities, as Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler define in their brilliant book Crucial Conversations, many leaders undercut their own efforts because something that the leader meant as a neutral request for information about the conversation triggers a sense of insecurity or disrespect from their team. Then, the conversation ends abruptly or takes an ugly turn towards. As the authors of Crucial Conversations explain, the team member turns towards silence or violence, and your goal for the conversation is no longer their priority.
Secondly, we stay with the conversation manage our own insecurities so that we do not turn towards silence or violence ourselves when someone’s reaction to silence or violence triggers us. We commit to getting feedback for our clients.
Many people are familiar with this book and the concepts. It must be noted though, that in the majority of the work that we do, be it an organizational assessment, workshop or just straight coaching, the vast majority of the folks we interact with, either do not have the conversations at all, or struggle to complete the conversations successfully.
This leads to a hesitancy, by the management and employees at a company, to have real, fact-based conversations with their teams.
Without a mutual goal, many of these conversations turn into emotion fueled tangents that frequently do more harm than good.
We, as leaders, need to develop, practice and shine at collecting feedback and having productive, crucial conversations.
The question of the day then should be, are we preparing for and having the crucial conversations, as leaders, that will make our organizations more successful and engaged? Are we committed to it?
Our profitability and success are being affected by this knowledge gap between what your team knows and what they are willing to tell you, EVERYDAY. Worth looking into?
Do you want to look into whether crucial conversations are done well, poorly or not at all at your company? Talk to John Casey, CEO of Shamrock Consultants.
Shamrock leverages 26 years of leadership development experience to assist organizations in the transformation to effective leadership using unique, powerful, and PROVEN methods – methods created from data collected from 40,000 managers at 2,000 different businesses.
I’m John Casey and I bring my whole self, plus 26 years of assessing and coaching leaders, to your organizations’ leadership benchmarking and transformation process to help your managers become highly effective LEADERS. My heart, my research, and my experience are all in my work, and it shows clearly in my client interactions and their organizations’ leadership results.