What baggage are you carrying forward from the beginning of the year that was left unaddressed during the year?  It’s a hard question to ponder and to face, yet crucial if you are to enter a new decade with a clear plan for completion. 

There is nothing more draining to a business than a nagging issue, challenge or problem that is known and left unaddressed for a long period of time.  This toleration sucks the life out of you.  Most pressing are those darned human issues that still require a resolution.

Those darned humans!  

  • What leadership issue entered 2019 as a low hum that has become a rattle and a bang?   
  • What talent conversations were continually were relegated to the “I’ll get to it later” category? 
  • Who is still on your team who needed a dignified exit in 2019? 
  • Who is still waiting for simple feedback that could easily resolve an underground danger? 

Do you find yourself putting off the people issues at the expense of the health of your business?  You are not alone, and it is costing you.

Research from Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, authors of the New York Times bestseller, Crucial Conversations, shows every conversation failure costs an organization an average of $7,500 and more than seven workdays. 

Why do you fail to deal directly with the people issues in your business and resolve them once and for all?  Well…. maybe because dealing with humans can be tricky.  Your discomfort butts up against their discomfort.  Your discomfort can distort your message.  Their discomfort (read:  fear) diminishes ability to fully listen.  Wow.  Forget about it – many choose to put this off and deal with less stressful issues like strategy, process or profit.  Ha! 

“Behind every communication problem is a sweaty ten-minute conversation that you don’t want to have.”
– Gay Hendricks, Author, The Big Leap

The people issues become toxic to your culture when left unaddressed.  You don’t want to carry a bag of unresolved people issues into the next decade.  You DO want to shore up your leadership, your courage and your communication to let some of that stuff go. Let’s create a powerful plan of thoughtful action. Here are some tips: 

1. Take Stock

Center yourself and create an emotional state of neutrality. Take a good look at the performance, attitude and results of your team. List the plusses and the minuses.  Prioritize the issues based upon level of pain and impact on the organization. 

2. Get the Facts

Without allowing yourself to get bogged down in the diminishing return of too much data, make sure that you have the appropriate facts.  Was there an over-arching business issue that created human issues?  What specific performance suffered?  What demonstratable results occurred?  Who, what, where, when, why and how will be important questions. 

3. Plan and Have the Conversation

The SBIC feedback formula of Situation, Behavior Observed, Impact of the Behavior and Change or Continuation Required is a good way to pre-frame the conversation.   

  • The Situation puts the conversation in context (“When you were talking to Joe….”).   
  • The Behavior Observed keeps the conversation about what can be altered, rather than about someone’s personality.  (“This is the behavior I observed…”) 
  • The Impact is buy-in.  When you articulate impact, accountability becomes clear. (The impact on the business is …)
  • Finally, the Change or Continuation part of the conversation is the brainstorm about how to continue what is working or how to change what is not.  (“To improve, make this change…” or “To continue, keep doing this….) 

Plan the formula and then have an honest and open conversation.  Make sure to listen! 

4. Make the tough decisions with dignity

What if you decide to let someone on your team go?  Do it with dignity. There is a behavior, an outcome, an expectation that is not meeting the standard.  Or perhaps they are not the right fit for the seat with no option to retain them.  Communicate clearly and with respect.  Manage your emotions and honor theirs. 

5. Give yourself some slack – you are doing the best you can with what you know.

Enough said!  To co-opt a familiar phrase, “practice makes perfect”.  Keep having the conversations and you will become more and more skilled over time. 

Left to your own devices, you may still struggle with the people component of your business.  People issues are hard!  You may need some help in the form of personal leadership or team leadership development.  Get the support!  Leadership and professional development are the best investments you could every make.  Leadership training or coaching exposes the issues, heals the wounds, enables the good players and strengthens communication (the glue). 

Have the conversations.  Make the decisions.  Resolve the unresolved.  This time next year, you will be celebrating a clean slate and be ready to tackle the next set up up-leveled opportunity!