In most organisations, intelligence and competence are considered the key drivers of success. We promote our high performers into management roles based on their technical competence rather than their suitability for managing people.

In a management position, employees are no longer simply judged on technical proficiency, they are also evaluated on their interpersonal skills such as providing constructive feedback; holding difficult conversations; and influencing the behaviour of others.

Our research suggests that instead of holding members of their team accountable, 75% of managers take on extra work every week to compensate for under-performing staff. Those who do raise concerns don’t always see the results they’re expecting as 80% see bad habits return within three months.

If a manager lacks the fundamental 'soft' skills for effectively managing their team, the costs and implications can be wide-reaching as results, respect and team morale will diminish. Unable to speak up and hold others accountable, managers can become stuck. For example:

  • People begin to work in silos
  • People’s best ideas aren’t being heard or implemented
  • Not everyone in the team is pulling their weight
  • People become cynical to change initiatives
  • The team repeatedly misses deadlines

If managers find themselves stuck, there’s a crucial conversation they’re either not holding or not holding well.

When managers choose to refrain from holding a crucial conversation with a member of their team, the intent behind this behaviour is positive – to avoid hurting the other person or to avoid damaging the working relationship if the conversation goes badly. The emphasis is placed on the immediate risks involved in speaking up and getting it wrong, while ignoring the certain and ongoing costs of not speaking up.

The significant implications of not speaking up include: underperformers are left unaccountable; the manager takes on extra work rather than speak to their employee; staff development is hindered; relationships break down; motivation dwindles; and we accept a culture of silence.

The performance and progression of individuals, teams, and sometimes entire organisations, can stagnate because of an inability to manage people successfully.

If you’d like to learn more about how Grahame Robb Associates provides managers with the skills and confidence to hold crucial conversations and create a culture of dialogue and accountability, you can join us for a complimentary briefing in London on Thursday 25th February. Click here for further details. Alternatively, you can watch our recent webinar introducing the 2-day Crucial Conversations training programme.

Add new comment