29 Oct Courageous Conversations – making things worse?
Across industries and organisations, vast amounts of resource are being emptied into skill building buckets to enable people to be more effective conducting ‘Courageous Conversations’. Pity really, as it seems like such a waste when resources are so limited and so fiercely contested.
What if we did away with the need for courage? What if we just had conversations?
I would argue that courageous conversations should be no more courageous than a normal day to day interaction!
By labeling the need to talk about performance and how a team member is tracking (especially if it is less than expected,) we might well be setting them up for defensiveness and push back.
By invoking the power of ‘courage’, I am inviting into my reckoning the possibility that this is an opportunity to conquer some fear or other! And this is not even getting in to the implications of triggering a limbic fight/ flight response for them if they know or suspect it is time for me to call on my courage!
What if we normalised conversations about how our team members are tracking, with frequent, informal just-in-time catch ups. That way, any adjustments or corrections in approach or direction or behaviour can be made at the time, long before any crisis is able to develop or unfold. Take the situation where returning from a client presentation that did not go as well as hoped, you open the conversation with your team member. “How do you feel that went?” In the back of the cab a quick debrief might be all that is necessary.
That way, any adjustments in approach or changes to how the team member managed the challenge or issue is opened up for discussion and mined for insights and learning – both positive and negative. It is not a courageous conversation – it’s is merely a conversation, a debrief and also known as reflective practice!
Small frequent adjustments, based on accurate, real time data ensure that the progress is kept on track and on time – Don’t believe me? Ask why Google Maps is so effective?
Change the mindset and we can change the behaviour! Change the behaviour and we can change the culture.