The art of confrontation and how leaders can do it effectively

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When you become a boss, you are responsible for the performance of a group. And your group or team will consist of different types of people; performers and underperformers. And in an attempt to improve the performance of the group, you will need to confront individuals. The goal in such situations should be to make the confrontation successful, not ugly.

Here are ways to make confrontations with your team members successful. 

Build a good relationship with your team members.

When you have a relationship with someone, both of you are more willing to listen. So strike a friendly conversation with your teammates that includes more than the regular work discussion. 

Don’t put it off.

Putting off a behavior or performance problem will not solve it. On the contrary, the longer you put them off, the worse they are likely to become.

Create a good environment for the conversation to succeed.

Choose a private and safe space that doesn’t allow interruptions. This will help you to have a successful conversation. 

Your goal is for the team member to leave the conversation concentrating on what they will do differently.

Plan what you’re going to say. 

Adapt your opening to the person you’ll be talking to. For example, some teammates might prefer having a small talk before diving into a discussion, while others like to have a straightforward conversation. 


Be factual and objective.

Describe the behavior or performance that should change without adjectives. Address the importance of getting it right.

Allow the other person to speak.

Once you are done talking, allow the other person to state their thoughts. They could disagree with you, give you a new perspective, or be on the same page. 

What you talk about next depends on what your team member says. Imagine some possibilities and how you’ll respond.

Don’t end the session until you’ve agreed on three things.

Don’t end the conversation before agreeing to three things:

1. What needs to change, 

2. When will it change and 

3. How both of you will know that it has changed. 

Confronting your teammates is a necessary drill. And you must do it effectively.

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