One of the biggest challenges for supervisors is their ability to communicate effectively with those whom they supervise. Often it is because supervisors assume that their employees already know “the drill” or that they should innately just know the dos and don’ts of the workplace.
Frustration can begin to set in when supervisors feel as though they have already been over certain policies and procedures countless times to no avail and so they just give up. Additionally, most people don’t enjoy confrontation and so, rather than addressing issues directly with an employee, supervisors will just ignore problems and hope they go away.
Failure to address workplace issues and performance can obviously create many future challenges for a company. Employment related legal liabilities or the loss of potentially good employees can impact the bottom line.
Morale can also take a big hit – either by indefinitely retaining poor performing employees or by constantly barraging employees (including star performers) with policy reminders and clarifications.
Components of Courageous Communication
What can you do? Learn and teach the components of courageous communication.
Here is a quick list to get you started:
- Be Direct! Deal directly with the person who is creating the issue rather than implementing a new policy or rehashing the old ones. NOTE: Blanket “policy” type e-mails are often used in an attempt to address a performance issue with one employee. These are not effective. Those employees who need the correction don’t get that the clarification is aimed at them and the solid employees will either get angry or left wondering if they are in fact doing something wrong.
- Be Brave! Have difficult conversations in person, face-to-face. Avoid using e-mail, or even worse – texting, to address performance or other workplace issues. When an in person face-to-face meeting is not an option, phone calls or online virtual meetings should be your next choice. And do not fear! In anticipation of a face to face, supervisors often imagine and dwell on a worst case scenario ending. Rarely, do the meetings turn out as daunting as expected!
- Be Prepared! Plan out what you are going to say and keep some simple notes handy. This will help you stay on track during the meeting. If the conversation warrants, ask a neutral and appropriate third party – such as a higher level supervisor or HR – to join you in the meeting as moral support or to help plan your conversation. Part of preparation includes documenting your meeting and developing a strategy for going forward.
- Be Prompt! Although there is a little bit of tactic when timing your meeting, do not put off addressing the situation or documenting your conversation. The sooner the better.
- Be Professional! Remember above all else that you are speaking to another person. Your tone should remain respectful and professional, even if the other person’s does not. Stay calm, stay engaged, and pick an appropriate place and time to have your conversation. Listen and work together to deal with the situation and find a solution. Stay positive and expect a good outcome!
Contact the Treyburn HR Group if you would like more information about how to train your organization to communicate courageously.