Last week you read why it is important for small business leaders to engage in direct, candid communications in their workplaces.
They should also invest some energy in creating a culture of candid communication, where direct, candid conversations between all personnel and all levels is the expectation.
Few do, however.
The reason is, it is hard to do.
First of all, most small business leaders are uncomfortable with it themselves so they rarely approach the conversations the right way and some avoid them altogether.
If this is the case it’s virtually impossible for a leader to hold this expectation for others in their organization. Even if they did, it would go bad as few would engage in them properly and effectively. They would be creating more conflict rather than building people up to higher performance and morale.
One client’s employees told me that their boss (my client) was sending mixed messages and creating confusion around expectations. When I informed him of this he said, “oh, no, Skip, I was quite clear. There was no confusion.”
If his people (and it was more than one) are saying they are getting mixed messages and its generating confusion in the workplace, then there are mixed messages and confusion in the workplace.
Secondly, because many small business leaders are uncomfortable with the candid, one-on-one conversations they often avoid them until a situation becomes more serious and they’ve reached a breaking point.
This is not the frame of mind to have a candid, direct, one-on-one conversation as emotions are often too intense at this stage.
Third, they often end up engaging in “the wrong conversation with the right person!”
Since creating the concept around The 4 Workplace Conversations I’m continually amazed at how often people start too far down the conversation scale.
Too often small business leaders start the candid, one-on-one conversation about an issue they need to address with the individual. Doing so often gets people defensive and upset.
Whereas there may be a behavior or performance issues that needs to be addressed, the better conversation to have, at least at the beginning, is more about the relationship between the two people.
Small business leaders too often get caught up in the “I’m the boss, I sign the paycheck” mindset, thinking this is enough to have employees comply with job requirements.
It can be. If the small business owner wants robots who don’t think for themselves and just do what they’re told.
Instead the conversations should center around building relationships with their employees based on trust and commitment to the common vision for the company.
Rarely do those conversations take place in small businesses. They should.