Authenticity – to be or not to be, that is the question

When talking to people about their staff and how to “let people go” or terminate poor performers  without leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth,  many employers are tempted to sugar coat or leave out the truth so everyone leaves as friends and not tell it how it really is.

We are told from when we are young; to be nice, play nicely, say nice things to each other, don’t be rude, don’t be mean to people … and then in the next breath we get told off for lying or mis-representing the truth. No wonder we get confused and perpetuate the tradition of giving conflicting messages so we still get into trouble even when we’ve “grown up”.

I am of the opinion and experience has shown me time and again, that it is far better to take hold of your courage in both hands, take a deep breath, and despite the pounding heart, deal with the actual employee issue; especially if it is about poor performance in a timely and appropriate manner. Most often the other person is expecting it and it’s a relief to them too.

By avoiding dealing with poor performances and simply making staff redundant, putting someone else in over the top of them to deal with them or by endlessly putting off the conversation, we are merely letting ourselves and others down.

Of course there is a need to balance authentic feedback with empathy and sensitivity rather than being bald and abrupt, but if you’re not sure how to do this, get some input and suggestions from someone whose communication style you admire and seems to work. It may help to practice the conversation you’re going to have with the employee and see how it comes out – especially if you normally shoot your feedback from the hip.

I’ve seen many employees who have the view that they’re over-achieving because no one has ever been authentic with them before and where they are falling short. They end up bouncing from employer to employer, wondering why they’re not getting anywhere and often end up as disillusioned & disengaged employee.

One of the best skills we can learn in being effective leaders or managers is by building our own resilience (feeling the fear and doing it anyway) and assisting others to build theirs by being authentic about how we’re feeling about what they are doing or are not doing and what the impact is for everyone. This will help the employee deal with reality and make a choice whether to change their behaviours or not. Being authentic and having integrity about what is really up releases people from the knots they often bind themselves into.

PS: Do yourself a favour, learn to have authentic and straight conversations with empathy, this will help you feel more at peace with yourself and in fact set you free. Good luck.

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