Be a Brave Leader – PART 2 of Honest Feedback
Be a Brave Leader – Part 2
THIS IS THE CONTINUATION OF Courage to Give Honest Feedback – PART 1
So make sure you read that first. This is just one of many stories I could tell you about the need to be a brave leader.
Unfortunately, it came to me to address the situation with Karen and John. Their respective managers were not comfortable addressing the situation alone. So after discussing the issue and deciding on our approach, I held a meeting with Karen and then with John.
Awareness is key
Please understand, my intent in the meeting was not to try to get them to stop dating. Assuming they really were. My intent was to make Karen and John aware of the rumors and gossip circulating about them and how it was impacting the workforce and them.
I couldn’t give the specific example of Karen’s employee threatening to quit because he’d asked for confidentiality. But I felt that it was important to at least make both of them aware that their reputation as exemplary leaders in the organization was suffering because of their actions.
It was causing distraction at the least and if things went wrong for them, the potential for a really BAD situation was staring us in the face. Even their upper managers were beginning to make comments among themselves about the behaviors.
Reputations suffer if you can’t be a brave leader
Needless to say, they were both dismayed to know that all their efforts at discretion were for nothing. Are there ever really any secrets at work? And that people were talking about them. Their initial reaction was that it was nobody’s business. They were grown, consenting adults, yada, yada, yada.
However, after thinking it through, they realized that if the relationship was serious, they needed to be serious about how it was potentially impacting their careers. It was necessary to figure out to handle the workplace concerns.
I also made it clear that since they were dating, I needed their commitment that if the relationship ended, it would not affect how they worked together, how they made decisions about common workplace issues and how they collaborated together on projects, in meetings, etc.
To make a long story short, they were a serious couple. Since they weren’t breaking any company policies, they became more open about the relationship. Doing that meant the rumors ended and they were very, very good about keeping things completely professional during work times.
They weren’t very happy with ME for a while, because I had made them face a really uncomfortable situation and deal with it. However, I’m happy to report that in the long run, they continued to be very effective managers.
Karen’s employee did not quit (there was some additional counseling with him that I did). When the relationship eventually ended, Karen and John handled it remarkably well and no one was negatively impacted. Even when John started dating someone else at work! My job is never done…
So to me the lesson learned is multi-fold:
You can’t ignore problems because they don’t go away most of the time.
- It’s important to be completely objective and really think through any difficult messages you need to deliver to ensure they are the right messages and you’re presenting them in the best way possible.
- It takes courage to be the one to address these situations because it can cause disruption to the relationship you have with the person on the other end. You must be a brave leader!
- If you learn to do this the right way, it will serve you well in every situation and you will have a tremendously positive impact on your team.
- If you aren’t the manager, but you are the person receiving the feedback, take it seriously, give a great deal of thought to how you can react to it in order to move forward, and don’t shoot the messenger!
In our next update, we’ll give you some strategies to help you strengthen your “courage” muscles. In the meantime, Be A Brave Leader and carry on!
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