As a team leader, do you avoid difficult conversations that address poor behaviour within your team?  Are you secretly a people pleaser reluctant to upset your team members?   While it can be uncomfortable and often challenging, conversations and communication to address poor behaviour in the workplace are essential. 

What we tolerate, we accept

Think about that for a minute. Life goes along its merry way with you tolerating this. You think, “Well, that’s not so bad…I can live with that.” Pretty soon, your “that’s not so bad” tolerations have built up like a pile of dirty laundry from a family of 12 who has ten kids under the age of 10. You get the idea – it’s like a vast heaping never-ending pile of what the heck happened here? But that’s how tolerations go. When you are a manager or leader, you have to nip these tolerations in the bud. 

You may be thinking, “But it isn’t that bad.” Hang with me for quick visualization. Let’s say you are managing your team. All is moving along just fine. You have one team member who makes critical jokes. You write it off in your mind as “She’s just joking.” After a while, you start to see another team member get kind of snarky with others in the office. Now you begin to wonder if you should have said something to Ms Jokester. After all, how can you address Ms Snarky if you haven’t said anything to Ms Jokester?

You decide to tolerate

After a while, someone quits. It’s for a better opportunity, they tell you. No biggie, you will hire a replacement. But then, into the first week, the replacement person quits. “It’s not what I thought it was,” they tell you. Before you know it, turnover is high, and you can’t attract any talent. Your workplace culture has become one of backbiting, condescending, nastiness. You are starting to realize your mistake. It would help if you said something in the beginning.

It’s never too late

But here’s the excellent news, it is never too late.  

“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.” – George Eliot

The same is true for your business.

You might need to steer your ship in a new direction or turn it around, but it is doable. You need to address the situation by getting to the root of the problem—nothing more, nothing less.

Take Ownership of the Problem

But here’s the deal, you have to take ownership of the problem yourself.  Start the conversation with “I may have let you think that some behaviours were acceptable.”

The reason this statement is so powerful is that you own your part of the problem. You aren’t placing blame. Plus, you are addressing the behaviour, not the person. Some excellent people in the world have momentarily exhibited destructive behaviours.

Your job as a leader, whether you’re a mom, a boss, a manager or a CEO, is to show your team the way – to be their navigational beacon. This includes showing, telling and demonstrating what is and is not acceptable as a behaviour. This ongoing communication is what leads your team to healthy behaviours

So the next time you are dreading a confrontation or a difficult conversation, visualize how much worse it can get if you don’t address the problem and how much harder it will be to get to where you are going if you have been headed in the wrong direction.  

Image courtesy of Depositphotos

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Kathy Bourque is a Leadership Development Expert for women in business who crave operating from a place of clarity and confidence.

Through her down-to-earth mentorship programs, workshops and keynote speeches, she’s here to show you how to create a workplace of open connectedness where the fires put themselves out. Her emphasis on mindset and mindfulness is revolutionary in the business world.

Transform your leadership style and declare how you want to show up at