Have you ever heard someone in the office (Person #1) complain about the actions or behaviors of another (Person #2)? Even on multiple occasions? You hear Person #1 wish that Person #2’s actions or behaviors would change, and when you ask if Person #1 has talked to Person #2 about it, the answer is, “No. I don’t know what good it would do.”
This is a clear sign that Person #1 is uncomfortable with the situation and doesn’t know how to resolve it. Unless they are willing to speak up and confront the Person #2, the perceived problem(s) will likely perpetuate. Not only does Person #1 need to speak up, he/she needs to be strong enough to have what CMOE calls a courageous coaching conversation. Research conducted by CMOE has shown that people tend to avoid these situations. There are a couple reasons for this:
- They lack the skills needed to handle the conversation effectively (the logical ability, or the How)
- They also lack the courage to have the conversation at all (the emotional ability, or the Heart)
High Impact coaching conversations are more than quick meetings used to provide feedback. When the stakes are high (e.g. during big, important projects; getting to know a new client and their needs; rolling out a new product) more risk is on the table. With a work atmosphere charged with excitement, pressure, and greater performance expectations, the stress of work life may cause people to behave in ways that do not add value. Members of the team usually have to pick up the slack, and that is when the grumbling begins.
A courageous coaching conversation needs to happen when:
- The conversation needs to go beyond the surface level of the situation and dig deeper, getting to the heart of the problem
- You have tried unsuccessfully to get your message across to those involved and no changes are being made
- Your ideas to improve the situation are met with continuous resistance
- People are not following through on assignments and commitments.
- Your patience has expired, but you want to maintain composure
Courageous coaching conversations should happen as soon as the need arises. However, the key is not just having them, but effectively managing them. Once people learn how to manage holding courageous conversations, the workplace will be filled with greater awareness, accountability, mutual respect and trust, and greater honesty and clarity about how the team can work better together.