In the past, workplaces were heavily hierarchical and it was expected and accepted that managers were direct and overt in giving instructions and critical feedback.

As we have moved to 'flatter' structures and a more empathetic and collaborative leadership style managers are now very hesitant to have these discussions. 

'In the past' workplace roles were very clearly defined. A manager was respected because they were a manager. An employee followed their manager's instructions and accepted their feedback.  Tasks were completed because that's just what you did. An employee did not have to be rewarded beyond the fact they had a job and they received a paycheck.  There was far less focus on and investment in relationships because work was seen as 'strictly business'. 

Fast forward and many of these dynamics have changed. The workplace, although very heavily task focused, is also heavily 'relationship' focused. The efficiency and effectiveness of an employee is directly related to the quality of their workplace relationships (most importantly with people they interact with on a daily basis).  Even though we all know it is still the role of a manager to provide instruction and feedback,  the manager cannot be assured of the reaction they will receive and what effect this will have on the relationship and therefore the task output. Will this interaction with one staff member have a deleterious effect on their relationship with others. Will one upset staff member encourage others to 'turn against' the manager?

Understandably these types of conversations, from manager to staff member, have been termed 'difficult conversations'.

How do you give performance or behavioural feedback to a staff member who doesn't like you, might disagree with you, might interrupt or dominate the discussion or sit completely silently? What will they say to others? Will they overtly 'push back' on you or covertly undermine you? Will they ignore your feedback and instructions, implement 'go slow' tactics, take sick leave or put in a stress claim?

In 2021 I would like to lead a change in the mindset, behaviour and performance of managers. The 'necessary' conversations are necessary. But they don't have to be 'difficult'.  

All workplace issues arise from a lack of skilled communication and a lack of accountability. 

In 2021 would you like to be proactive and engage Workplace Harmony Solutions (inc Workplace Conflict Resolution) to fast track the development of these skills for managers at all levels within the business or be faced with making a reactionary decision to engage  Workplace Harmony Solutions (inc Workplace Conflict Resolution) for mediation or investigation services?

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Comment by Colin Imms on January 29, 2021 at 6:44

In my experience these  posts often provide some guidance, rather than  posing questions but not providing answers unless we engage your company's services. 

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