His response surprised him...
I was reminded again today about how much emotional energy gets entangled with our business decisions.
I was speaking about Navigating Emotionally Challenging Dialogue at a conference today. What I love about this particular mini-workshop that I've created is that each attendee gets to work on a scenario they are struggling with right now.
When I asked for a volunteer to share their scenario, a gentleman stepped up and said he was struggling with a potential promotion for a staff member. The person was technically the most qualified for the position, however, if selected, he would also become a member of a high-functioning leadership team. In the past the potential candidate had challenges as a team player. In essence, the attendee was concerned that by selecting this candidate he would be jeopardizing the team.
As he shared it was obvious that he was really struggling emotionally with how to proceed. When I asked him what emotion he was bringing he said "fear." He had fear of making the wrong decision, fear of how to broach the subject of the candidate's leadership shortcomings, and fear of not finding an alternative candidate with the same level of specialized technical skill. Many in the group indicated that they could empathize with him.
My experience is that frank personnel conversations are the most challenging for leaders. I've seen the most incredible and complex workarounds created to avoid an honest conversation.
We worked through the six-step process for challenging dialogues, and when we got to "What is being mirrored for you that you judge in yourself?" the brave attendee answered instantly and honestly: "He is the cool guy that everyone likes. I've never felt that way." His response surprised him. He indicated that he said the first thing that came to mind when I asked the question. That was his fear. That was the root of it, the emotion that kept him from being able to give clear direct feedback about the gap between where the candidate is now and where he ideally needs to be.
Once he acknowledged the fear, we were able to create a relatively simple strategy for a coaching relationship that will give the candidate the best chance to become a successful member of the high-performing leadership team.
I hope for the opportunity to work further with this attendee on how he can become highly effective in supporting his team to achieve both the goals and mission of his organization.
I've facilitated my Navigating Challenging Dialogue™ Worksop at least 30 times by now. I'm am endlessly amazed by the "Ah ha!" moments people have as we work through the process and the renewed excitement they get for their work and their roles as managers or leaders. I love the emails and follow-ups I get from people saying, "This really helped with my personal relationships as well."
"We have gotten so much positive feedback from everyone about the Navigating Challenging Dialogue™ training—you are an outstanding facilitator. We keep hearing that employees really enjoyed the straightforward kind of conversation you were having with us. Lot’s of tangible take aways."
~Jenn HR Director, Sports Warehouse, San Luis Obispo