April 11, 2013
I’m willing to bet that most of your day is spent talking. You have discussions with coworkers, with advisers, and with clients. With that much talking going on, how do you ensure you are having the crucial conversations that truly impact growth?
As a leader, it is important to encourage and model these crucial conversations. Yet what makes these conversations crucial also makes them difficult to initiate -- no one likes bad news or criticism. So, instead of direct communication, many people rely on indirect communication when the topic is uncomfortable.
Look around your organization. Have you noticed a phenomenon occurring in your organization called triangulation? Instead of going directly to a coworker with feedback, the person complains to an alternate coworker. Instead of resolving conflict directly and specifically, triangulation causes a vicious cycle of wasted time by fueling the “rumor mill” to continue its churn. Triangulation can be so embedded in our corporate culture that we don’t even realize it is going on. Chatter is what keeps a company from moving forward. Conversely, having those crucial conversations can ignite productivity and gain you respect as a leader.
The solution is simple. Instead of talking about someone -- and wasting time in the process -- talk directly to the person. Encourage authentic and transparent communication to give helpful feedback to employees and bring focus to your organization. Recently at DBH’s Emerging Leader Group
, we discussed this topic of transparent communication. We learned from Rob Cohen, CEO of the IMA Group, that triangulation is strictly forbidden at his organization. In fact, they have a hand sign – a triangle – to remind coworkers when they are inadvertently engaging in this destructive habit. Rob tells me that even he displays the sign of a triangle to his employees in an effort to force them to have those crucial conversations instead of relying on him to solve their problems.
It takes courage to have honest conversations with an employee or coworker. More importantly, it takes a commitment to model that behavior each day so that it becomes part of your organization’s culture. Your support as a leader for direct communication helps employees navigate conflict resolution and gives rise to fresh ideas.
Do you need help with your crucial conversations? DBH’s Emerging Leader Groups delve into communication issues, visioning, execution, empowerment, and many more. The next group starts in June with CEO mentor Greg Collins, Principal and CEO of Parker, Smith & Feek, Inc.