3 AM Solution: Addressing Tough Performance & Behavioral Issues™

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

In a recent R|L survBusiness Women Conversationey of 1,400 leaders, we discovered that 93% of executives admitted delaying performance or behavioral discussions. Further, these respondents estimated that their organization’s overall performance short-fall averaged 45%, which means that the potential negative financial impact is staggering.

The vast majority of people intend to do well, but they often underperform due to the lack of timely, constructive feedback. Ironically, rarely do direct reports ask for, nor do they receive helpful, game-changing comments. Not addressing issues reinforces negative behavior and perpetuates people being stalled, stuck, and derailed – and possibly being terminated. Not surprising, the fear of an employee’s emotional reaction is the most compelling roadblock to leaders confidently having candid, straightforward conversations.

The two most common questions that get leaders up at 3 AM are:

  1. What can I do to get talented people to perform more to their potential?
  2. How can I address tough performance or behavioral issues without blowing up the   relationship?

For leaders to be truly effective, they must unlearn the habits and beliefs that have reinforced them being conflict avoidant, replacing them with new adaptive skills that allow them to confidently and courageously address sensitive issues.

As a leader, you must have a positive mindset that when you step into a possibly emotionally charged situation.  Your unwavering commitment to the other person will defuse any defensiveness that emerges.  It is essential that you first establish a context of trust and respect for the individual’s capabilities before you wade into the performance discussion. By doing so, it enables your direct reports to listen better and absorb the message of support and the spirit of partnering together for greater performance.

Remember, feedback is a huge gift; people want it and need it to thrive, though they may be resistant and defensive initially. If you knew that you could effectively provide constructive feedback in a manner that would generate greater trust, what would you attempt?

Authentic feedback begins with you – modeling openness and transparency with a willingness to graciously receive feedback from others.

It takes courage to face your fears and push through them to do something that is a bit nerve-wracking – AND do it anyway.


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