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Leadership Spotlight: Difficult Conversations

Hi, and a warm welcome to The Human Side of Business Podcast. I’m your host Ange MacCabe. I have the pleasure of introducing you to Diana Butler.

Diana is an HR professional working in the tech industry with a passion for people and an interest in how focusing on individual needs can drive performance in the workplace.

Leave Your Issues at The Door

Diana Butler: We hear a lot of people say, leave your home issues at home. We don't have space for them at work. Right? And that's not really fair. You can't ask people to completely shut off areas in their life that they're maybe struggling with or trying to understand better. I see it. As humans, things happening in our lives consume us. There's a point where we need to just let people be who they are and have that conversation. What's going on? Something seems off right now. Are you okay? And that is something that's frowned upon. We're getting better. Companies are doing better, and managers are doing better at taking a human-centric approach. And at the core of it, it frees people up to not have to hide the heavy. We talk at work as if we're a family. Well, if somebody's going through stuff and all you can think about are metrics, it's like, okay, great, but there's something off.

Why Self-awareness Is Important in the Workplace

Diana Butler: I'm at work, and something is incredibly triggering me today, and I don't have the self-awareness around it; then I'm going to charge through my day and tear everything up in my path. Right? And so to me, that's, oh, I see something. They're triggering me. I need to be curious about it. What's going on? You can drill down a little bit. For me, it's, well, maybe I thought I was supporting correctly, and now I feel like I didn't help. Right. And now I'm like I'm not good enough at this moment? And some people double down. Well, now I'm going to really prove it. And so, like, I'm just going to shrink. And that's something I used to do. I used to shrink when I felt that little bit of, like, a pullback from maybe I didn't do good enough. But if I haven't worked on that in myself, that trigger can really cause issues in the relationships around me.

Framing Difficult Conversations as Opportunities

Ange MacCabe: Not that we want to approach every conversation with it being challenging or complex or difficult, but when they do arise, having the culture set in place, at the end of the day, we trust that we're looking at this from a place of curiosity in the first instance and navigating it from a place of problem-solving. My business partner and I - whenever we're strategizing, we make jokes, you know, Are you ready to rumble? Because we know what that signals to each other is that we may have disagreements, but at the end of the day, we're two very different people that complement each other, which makes our business great. And so it's ensuring that your team members know it's okay to have differences of opinion. It's how we go about it. And trusting that at the end of the conversation, we may not always have a resolution immediately, but minimally, we're going to have some action steps or something else to percolate on so we can come back to the table for future conversations.

Having Difficult Conversations Can Lead To Team Connectivity

Diana Butler: People inherently want to do a really great job. And sometimes you hear the conversations of, oh, they're lazy, or they don't want to do this but are you motivating them correctly? Also, difficult conversations don't always arise when something goes wrong. For some people, a hard conversation is getting to that next level of connection. And that's where the magic is because you find out what makes people tick, and you find out, oh my gosh, you're curious about this, and you're motivated by this. I've been thinking about a project, and this is where we're aligning. And so it's giving people the freedom to express and be who they are without fear of, I'm not going to fit in here differently. And that creates the space for people to showcase the gifts and abilities we don't see on a resume.

If you're interested in learning more from our Spotlight Leaders check out Jeff McCann's Leadership Spotlight on: The Key to Performance is Executing


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