It’s human nature to want to avoid conflict. In fact, the path of least resistance is a law of nature. But that path of least resistance can also slide into avoidance behavior if you aren’t careful.
When I work with leaders on coaching, I find that avoidance is the number one accountability killer – especially when the message isn’t a positive one. Yet when managers have the right skills and tools they can learn to overcome avoidance and build a strong culture of accountability. Part of the toolkit I prescribe for overcoming avoidance is a worksheet that helps the manager prepare for a coaching discussion. The worksheet is essentially a tool to help organize your thoughts and tie the discussion back to overarching goals, point out gaps, and craft a plan for change.
There’s an art and a science to giving effective feedback and it takes preparation. Here are just a few of the preparation steps that I include in the worksheet:
- Be clear about: what you want, what you are getting, and the gaps
- Give examples (without dredging up baggage from the distant past)
- Keep the conversation “safe” through shared purpose and respect
Finally, it’s important to have face-to-face conversations whenever possible. It sends the message that the discussion is important. In today’s world, it’s easier to shoot off an email than it is to walk over to someone’s office and have a conversation. Face time not only allows you to ‘read’ the other person but to reinforce your message through body language.