What is the key to organizational success? Most individuals would say having effective performance management processes in place and having the right people in the right jobs. While both may have an impact, research studies have shown that the key to creating a high performing organization is how people handle communication.
Daily conversations, whether supervisor to employee, employee to employee, or employee to customer, are the crux to operating any business. Successful companies foster good, honest, and healthy conversations at all levels. Crucial conversations—defined as a discussion between two or more persons where stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong—are the most challenging conversations. When faced with this challenge, we can:
- Avoid them and pretend the situation goes away.
- Face them head on, but handle them poorly.
- Face them head on, but handle them well.
Avoidance and poor communication will only exasperate the situation and create unwanted consequences. The ideal is to handle them well. How then can we have honest, healthy, and productive conversations?
First, we need to be self-aware. We need to identify our motivations and the desired outcome of the conversation. Assess if you are having the conversation from a point of ego, a need to be “right” or a desire to repair the relationship.
Next, we need to have an effective dialogue: ask good questions, clarify others’ facts and feelings, listen effectively, and maintain emotional control throughout the process.
Finally, the conversation needs to be mutually beneficial – problem resolved and relationship strengthened.
High-performing organizations realize that the path to productivity is not through processes and procedures (they do play a part), but rather through successful face-to-face conversations at all levels. Find the courage to have that dialogue to foster trust and enhance your credibility.