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Stop avoiding tough conversations | Issue #260

Managing Difficult Conversations: A Step-by-Step Guide

Imagine this for a moment. One of your team members keeps turning up late for meetings. It’s getting on everyone’s nerves and causing resentment. You know you must speak to them, but keep putting it off.

It’s natural to avoid difficult conversations. No one wants to have them. But the longer you delay, the worse things can get, causing a toxic issue that eventually causes disengagement. Our advice is to reframe the way you think about these awkward conversations. Instead of ‘difficult’, think of them as ‘impactful’. 

When she was COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg encouraged her employees to have tough conversations at least once a week. ‘If you’re not having difficult conversations, you’re not growing,’ she used to say. Holding conflict-resolution discussions is fundamental to being a successful leader and is something we all must work at. You’re fortunate if it comes naturally to you.

Some organisations are much better at awkward conversations than others. But it goes hand-in-hand with building high-performing teams. Every member of a team should be capable of giving and receiving feedback. And the whole team commits to a standard of behaviour that means they won’t react in rage or burst into tears. As a result, difficult conversations are easier for the recipient of the feedback and less energy demanding for the giver. 

We all have inbuilt fight or flight mechanisms that kick in during tough conversations. This blog will give you ways to navigate this successfully. So, if you want to improve at difficult conversations, read on.

E266 | The Power of The Human Element For Successful Innovation with David Schonthal

This week on The Melting Pot we learned from David Shonthal, award-winning Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management and co-author of The Human Element. Overcoming The Resistance That Awaits New Ideas. 

You will know this feeling if you’re an entrepreneur or an innovator inside your business. Something that makes sense to you is being resisted by everybody at every turn. It’s often why people leave larger companies and go to smaller ones. Or start up their own where they feel there would be less resistance. It’s true for a while, but some of these elements will creep back in if that business succeeds. 

David has been involved in entrepreneurship, design and innovation for over 20 years, and his work has led to the creation of over 300 products, services, and new ventures worldwide. In this episode, he dives into the four types of friction that stand in the way of new ideas going forward. He also explains why it is important to recognise human behaviour to drive change, whether in B2C sales or B2B. 

A fantastic conversation with David about how to take your idea and move the organisation to adapt to the change.

Inside the Strategy Room

Conversations with McKinsey partners and corporate executives on the challenges they face in creating lasting strategies in a fast-changing world. We also examine the different ways these executives approach these challenges and the new and innovative ways they think of creating a vision for their enterprises.

What Makes an Inclusive Leader?

Leaders play a critical role in fostering inclusivity within their organizations. They account for a difference of up to 70 percentage points in employees’ experience of belongingness and psychological safety, and inclusive leaders see a 17% increase in team performance, a 20% increase in decision-making quality, and a 29% increase in team collaboration. Inclusive leaders also cut down employee attrition risk. If inclusive leaders are so influential, then inclusive traits like humility, curiosity, and empathy should be treated as critical leadership capabilities rather than simply desirable.

New CEO? Your Legacy Planning Should Start Now

“Without purpose that leads you to your legacy, you will not be able to withstand pressures to flip and flap in every direction,” explains Schroeter. “Legacy planning gives you conviction when you are being challenged at every turn. It provides guideposts to govern the decisions you make.” So no matter the challenges that come your way, having a legacy framework will keep you true to your long-term path

The Manager Squeeze: How the New Workplace Is Testing Team Leaders

“Managers form the bridge between leadership and the rest of the organization, which means they are often caught between employees’ and leaders’ expectations. During times of change, that’s a recipe for burnout.”

The Human Element

The Human Element is for anyone who wants to introduce a new idea or innovation into the world. Most marketers, innovators, executives, activists, or anyone else in the business of creating change, operate on a deep assumption. It is the belief that the best (and perhaps only) way to convince people to embrace a new idea is to heighten the appeal of the idea itself. We instinctively believe that if we add enough value, people will eventually say “yes.” This reflex leads us down a path of adding features and benefits to our ideas or increasing the sizzle of our messaging – all in the hope of getting others on board. We call this instinct the “Fuel-based mindset.” The Fuel-based mindset explains so much of what we do, from adding countless trivial features to software, to bolting a sixth blade onto a shaving razor. By focusing on Fuel, innovators neglect the other half of the equation – the psychological Frictions that oppose change. Frictions create drag on innovation. And though they are rarely considered, overcoming these Frictions is essential for bringing new ideas into the world. The Human Element highlights the four Frictions that operate against innovation.

Quote of the week

“The best way to keep superstars happy is to challenge them and make sure they are constantly learning.”

Kim Scott

Dominic Monkhouse

Dominic offers business coaching and management development, strategy planning and organisational change, using tried and tested methods to launch your organisation onto an unparalleled growth trajectory. His programme is a function of his broad experience, his deep expertise and a proven process used by over 2,700 firms worldwide.

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