Once a month I facilitate an open forum meeting with all of the supervisors in the department. My intentions for this meeting are to get all the leaders in one room to go over pertinent tasks for the month and to spur discussions that, hopefully, make us better leaders and team members. On this most recent meeting, a peer brought up a complaint that a couple of supervisors had developed the habit of communicating observations of performance and policy violations by employees, not to the direct leader of those employees, but directly to managers or directors.
Other supervisors verified that this had happened to them as well and immediately the group sentiment was one of condemnation and disappointment. One of my peers raised a great question and wondered if the violations were addressed with the employees at the time they were happening? They went on to remind the group that we were all leaders and that we have a responsibility to address those types of behaviors in all employees right then and there, and not just the ones who report to us directly. I agreed and told the group that this frame of thinking is important.
I went on to point out a couple other things that I wanted the group to also consider. First, I addressed my peer that brought up this topic and pointed out that what they had just done is no different than what was done to them. That while the leaders who went over their head to report the mistakes did so by going to the next level of leadership in order to put you in a negative light; you reported the mistake of your peers to a large group of leadership in order to put them in a negative light. Lastly, I asked everyone to think about the possible reasons why your peer would do this to you. Are you someone who is not receptive to feedback about your people? Perhaps too defensive or not physically/mentally present in the office? Or worse, your peer has come to you with feedback in the past, and you did nothing about it?
Tough conversations at work are necessary for efficient groups and are a key ingredient to building trust amongst your peers and employees. Caroline Castrollon, a career and life coach, contributed an article in Forbes called How To Handle Difficult Conversations At Work and there are some excellent tips to help yourself become a tough conversationalist. But let me know your thoughts or if you were in a similar situation. Do you agree or disagree with my contribution to the group discussion? Is there something I missed or should have addressed?