I have a friend who was engaged to be married, but as wonderful as his fiancé was, he didn’t want to go through with it. He agonized about what to do, consulted with friends, flip flopped endlessly – but he just couldn’t bring himself to tell her. Time passed, showers were thrown, wedding plans made. And still he delayed. The day came to mail the 200 plus invitations. He chewed his nails, hoped for an accident, but the envelopes were dropped in the mail box and R.S.V.P.’s came flowing in. Three days before the wedding, he broke it off. It was as bad as you can imagine and worse.
I see this dynamic every day in the work lives of business leaders and owners. They manage a key person in their organization, and they are not happy with the relationship. Often the individual is not performing as they should and the leader knows it. And yet, no concrete or decisive action is taken. They make remarks, even have conversations with the person – these often taken place on the fly, when something goes wrong, or maybe in the hallway on the way to a meeting. Their approach seems to confuse the employee and make the relationship even more awkward. And the performance continues to deteriorate.
Yes, you need to give this person every opportunity to succeed. Yes, you may want to consider training or adjustments in how you empower this person. But do not let these become an easy way for you to abdicate your responsibility as a manager to provide honest feedback and redirection because it is uncomfortable.
This conflict avoidance dynamic is graphed below. On the vertical axis, we have discomfort. On the horizontal axis, we have time. As shown, when time passes without management intervention, discomfort increases.
As you can see, if we address the person proactively, our task is not unpleasant. But the longer we avoid addressing an issue, the more uncomfortable the interaction will become. If we wait too long, performance problems mount, the relationship breaks down - and the organization pays the price.
The solution is simple, just not always easy. Follow the three guidelines below.
Human nature is to avoid the unpleasant. This dynamic is the same in work and life. An uncomfortable conversation now means you needn’t worry whether your future father in law is cleaning his shotgun.
If you want to learn more about how to manage diverse people and teams to produce the right business results, call me today at (702) 838-8413 or visit www.thebeckleygroup.com.