Addressing employee issues is hard.
I get it. I’ve been there.
Whether it’s a performance-related issue, a bad attitude, or maybe that they’re just not a good fit for your business, it can be a huge challenge to have to talk to an employee about something so uncomfortable.
They’re called “difficult conversations” because they’re, well, difficult!
But unless you address issues as they come up, they’re not going to get any better. You’re also not going to grow as a leader and learn how to handle these situations with more confidence and comfort. (And yes, difficult conversations do get easier – I promise!)
I want to share a story with you that I think will help demonstrate the importance of addressing issues with your team members head-on on, rather than procrastinating – or worse – avoiding them all together.
Why We Should Address Issues Head On
This is a story about my neighbor. Let’s call him Frank. (Name changed for privacy.)
Several weeks ago, I noticed that Frank’s yard was getting a bit overgrown.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not one of those stuffy neighbors that get in a snit when someone’s grass is 3.25” tall vs. 3.00” tall. But it was pretty tall and I just happened to notice it.
Day after day the grass continued to grow.
Soon I began wondering when Frank was going to take care of it before it got too out of control.
Weeks passed and still… nothing.
Y’all. That grass was beyond tall. His yard was starting to look like a hay field!
Now, I’m not ragging on Frank. Maybe he was busy with work or something important came up in life that caused him to be unable to mow his lawn for so long. I totally understand.
But when Frank finally got around to cutting his grass, he was in for a surprise – and not a good one.
I happened to be working from my back deck the day he tackled – yes, tackled – his yard.
I watched as he slowly chugged through the yard, struggling to push his lawnmower through the overgrown grass and weeds. To make matters worse, his mower kept shutting off after every 4-5 steps he took forward because the grass was too much for the poor thing.
It was a slow and excruciating process.
I felt bad for poor Frank.
As I sat there watching him struggle, it reminded me of the struggle that so many small business leaders face when it comes to having difficult conversations with their team members.
When we avoid addressing our team member’s performance issues and we neglect to have those difficult conversations, the problems only get bigger and the solutions only get harder.
We can avoid so much unnecessary struggle if we just tackle these issues and conversations quickly.
That’s why today I’m sharing three benefits of having difficult conversations immediately.
3 Benefits of Tackling Difficult Conversations Head On
1. Problems don’t fester
When you tackle issues head-on with your team members, problems don’t fester and become more challenging to handle.
The smaller the issue, the easier it is to handle and help your team member course correct and get back on the right track.
However, if you allow the problem to linger by not addressing it, your team will eventually learn that it’s okay – meaning that you’ve got even bigger problems in store down the road.
Like the old saying goes: “What you ignore, you allow. What you allow, you condone.”
Be cautious what you’re allowing and condoning in your business.
2. Maintain team morale
I’ve seen it time and time and time again. A leader who ignores problems with poor performing team members. And the subsequent drop in morale, trust, and respect from the other members of your team.
As a matter of fact, I’ve been on that team myself. The one where my boss consistently put her head in the sand when it came to underperforming team members – and the resentment I felt for her because of the lack of accountability and extra burden these poor performers put on me and my fellow team members.
If you don’t address issues with poor performers quickly and consistently, you can easily breed resentment in your high performing team members. Which will likely lead to them jumping ship to work for someone who will.
3. Grow as a leader
We all have things in our businesses that we weren’t great at when we first tried them. But the more you learned, tried and practiced that skill, the better you became.
Leadership is the exact same.
It’s a skill that has to be learned, tried, and practiced. Sure, some folks might have a more natural inclination toward being a great leader, but that doesn’t mean they know everything or don’t have any room for growth or improvement.
Difficult conversations are going to be extra challenging at first. They’re going to feel scary and darn near impossible to get through. But just like learning how to market your business, package your services, and balance your books, you can and will learn how to become more confident and comfortable in having difficult conversations with your team members.
If you plan on having a team one day, or you currently have a team in place, you’re going to have to have difficult conversations. That’s a fact.
Things are going to come up and you have two choices as the leader of your business and your team:
(1) Tackle problems head-on, maintain your team’s morale and productivity and achieve your goals
(2) Ignore problems, allow them to fester and infect the rest of your team and struggle to reach your goals
The choice is yours. Which will you choose?