On November 30th I attended Pam Chambers' workshop "Raising the Bar--Coaching for Excellence."
Coaching is a prime opportunity for improving skills and developing better employees. One of the least liked aspects of coaching, however, is what Pam refers to as "The Difficult Conversation."
As both supervisors and supervisees, I think we can take something away from her seven-step process.
An important point to remember is that a "difficult conversation" is stemming from a difficult situation; something is not going right and it needs to be dealt with. We all have areas where we could improve, so as employees it is important to know this and try not to take things personally. Pam suggest considering keeping this little phrase in mind when delivering a message about something that an employee is not doing well:
"Water is wet.
Rocks are hard.
You are 5 minutes late."
This straight-forward approach does not judge; it states a fact. As an employee, it is important to keep in mind that the supervisor is stating what is just a fact. Receiving a correction in this way is much more acceptable to most people--there isn't judgement. What just "is" can be corrected without emotion or drama, or explained and a solution can be developed.
The Difficult Conversation Steps
- Identify clearly what needs correction.
- Choose the right time and place to have the conversation.
- Use the Oreo cookie approach.
- Sincere, relevant, specific praise.
- The essential message
- Give the other person a chance to respond.
- Come to an agreement about a solution.
- Stop talking.
- Follow up. When?
Pam promotes positive coaching. It is very, very important to be sincere; seeming sincere is a long way from actual sincerity. Believe in your staff--their qualities make them incredibly good at what they do. As a manager, it is your job to help them succeed and grow. If you truly believe in your staff, sincere praise should not be hard to deliver.
I encourage all of the ISC staff to take a minute today and consider your fellow employees. What are their best qualities? How can YOU, regardless of your position, help and encourage them?