Five Solutions to Tough Conversation That Work

All great leaders have tough conversations; career success demands them. The more impact you have the tougher the conversations become.

The path to career advancement begins with technical skill and then moves to social/relational skills. The third step in advancement is developing managerial skill. The pinnacle is toughness skills.

A powerful secret.

Successful C-level leaders have learned the secret of having tough conversations while maintaining positive, productive relationship.

10 Topics of tough conversations:

  1. Performance issues
  2. Employee conflicts with each other
  3. Behaviors and attitudes that stress office relationships
  4. Violations of policies and procedures
  5. Insubordination
  6. Offensive language
  7. Harassment
  8. Gossips, whiners, and backstabbers
  9. Blaming and excuse making
  10. Discipline, probation, and termination

Five dynamic solutions to tough conversations.

  1. Create a dynamic culture of excellence where feedback is normal, expected, and welcomed. For example, have curb-side debriefs after sales meetings. Perform after-action reports where after-action questions are known before projects begin.
  2. Establish clear, measurable targets. Clarity enables success, fuels motivation, and informs accountability.
  3. Focus on organizational mission not individuals.
  4. Commit to every employee receiving feedback every day. Employees complain they don’t receive enough feedback; give them 60 second bursts.
  5. Employ the four to one rule; four positives for every negative.

Three clear stages to every tough conversation.

  1. Prepare the beginning. Say the words out loud to yourself. How do you sound?
  2. In the middle use questions, clarification, observations, and finally statements. Come to solutions, when possible, together.
  3. End by agreeing on the problem, explain solutions in clear behavioral terms, define consequences, setup a follow up.

Untapped opportunity.

Behind mediocrity is a tough conversation someone didn’t have. It may be as simple as saying no. Running from tough conversations creates environments where feelings rather than mission control organizational culture.

What type of tough conversations are you having?

What strategies help you succeed with tough conversations?