Building Our Leadership Skills Part 4… How Honesty, Transparency, and Relationship Building Ease Difficult Conversations
These titles are getting too long!
So… we were talking about our relationship with ourselves, and how developing relationships with your team members can make what would otherwise be difficult conversations not so difficult. How exactly is that you ask? Well…
In order to have a real, genuine, and honest relationship with someone we need to be our true selves with them. We cannot be acting, or pretending to care about them. We all see right through this. We must actually want to help them achieve their goals, care about their lives, and want to see them succeed. If we have the qualities listed on the last post… Building Our Leadership Skills part 3, then we will care about all of these things. If we are honest with ourselves, and have some work to do with one or more of those qualities, I’ve found it very refreshing for a team member to hear just that from me. Honesty and transparency are highly underrated, and bring about a level of loyalty and trust that is hard to achieve any other way. Our team members need to know that we are human, that we are aware that we don’t know everything, and that we care and are working on it. They are much more likely to give us a little slack when we mess up.
With that out of the way, we can get back to our point. If we hired this team member, we start developing our relationship when we indoctrinate them. If we did not hire them, we have to make the time to work on our relationship. In my experience, this will be very new to our team members, and they will wonder what is really going on. Taking them out of the workplace, perhaps for coffee or a walk outside helps to get past the work atmosphere and hierarchy. It can help to allow people to open up and talk honestly with us. And, since you are probably the first boss they have ever had that wants to take an interest in anything other than their job performance, this will be a process. You should not expect to really get to know anyone, or to get anyone to feel safe talking with you the first time you attempt to connect with them.
Much of what you will usually hear about developing relationships is that we need to listen much more than we talk, and that is true. At first however, I’ve found it helpful to set the stage for my team members. Let them know the purpose of talking to them, why you want to develop a better, real relationship with them. Remember, honesty and transparency is the best way to go.
There is a key here… Honesty and transparency is the best way to go because when we fail to explain why we are doing whatever we are doing, we leave it up to our team members to guess why. In your experience, have your bosses always acted on only the highest principles? Have they always had your best interest at heart, or were they thinking about themselves? Have they been open, honest, and generous? Have they given credit and taken the blame? I bet I know your answers, and your team members experience is probably the same.
Please don’t leave it up to your team members to guess as to why you are meeting with them, or for that matter why you are doing anything. Their guesses will come from their experience, and in their minds you are up to no good. You can easily avoid that by being transparent… the downside is really very small. Try it! Your team will appreciate you for it.
So… you’ve set the stage.
You want to make a positive impact on the culture of the team. You want to help each and every team members achieve their goals. So ask questions just as you would in our hiring process. If you have not read the series on Hiring Hourly Team Members please go back and do so. It will give you some insights into our process here. You are getting to know the person in front of you. Give them 100% of your attention. Turn off your phone and give them the respect they deserve. It’s the only way to actually connect with someone. If you were talking to a man or woman you were interested in, what would you do? Do the same for your team members…
As we said, this will be a process. You will want to meet with them a couple of times at first, and then maybe quarterly, may twice a year depending on the size of your team. This is called Leadership, and you cannot fail to develop these relationships and still expect the results you want. You must invest the time and energy here in order to get the desire results later. There are no shortcuts. If you don’t make this happen no one will. If you start the process only to drop the ball, no one is going to follow-up and get you back on track… other than your mentor/coach… you have one, right!? Good!
Throughout these talks with your team members, you will not only invest your time, and energy, but also show your concern, empathy, details of your life, your goals, and your failings (go back and read ‘being human’ if you have not). In the end, you want to end up with the same results as when we are hiring and indoctrinating our new hires.
We want them excited and invigorated. We want them to know they have a Leader who cares about them and their goals, who values them, and understands what they have to offer. A Leader who knows that they can and will succeed, is happy to have them on the team, and knows that they are an important part of the team. We all want to hear that. We all want to believe that our boss believes all of that. The only way to guarantee that your team members know all this is to tell them. Hoping your actions tell them does not work. You have to tell them, in words they understand, until you believe they hear it.
Then, and only then, will those conversations cease to be so difficult. The team member will hear what you have to say as you intend, because they know you care about them, they know you have their best interests at heart, and they know you believe in them. After years of working at this, I’ve had many team members apologize for putting me in the position of having to issue them a corrective action, and I’ve even had 2 apologize when I fired them. Yes… The said they were sorry they made me fire them. You can do it too… it just takes personal development working on the qualities of a Leader, and the time and energy to develop relationships with your team members.
Oh… and if you like the blog please like my facebook page. Thank you!
I like this article… I do not generally like the Huffington post… sorry about that.