I’ll never forget the first time someone cried when I gave her some feedback. I reacted in the worst way. No, I didn’t cry too! But I did completely wimp out. I was so uncomfortable, I told her “it’s ok, we can talk about this another time.” And then I let her leave.
As you can imagine, we didn’t talk about it again.
I learned an important lesson that day. I learned that I should not avoid the uncomfortable - especially when it is going to help another person.
Providing feedback to our employees is a very important responsibility that managers have to master. Avoiding these tough conversations is doing a disservice to your people.
Not only did I neglect to provide valuable feedback that day, but I reinforced a behavior that was not going to help this young lady’s success. That was many years ago, and I vowed I would get better in my role as a manager. Sure, some of my motivation was to make it easier on me. But some of what inspired me was to help other people.
Managers are often so overwhelmed and stressed, they forget their purpose.
While the end goal is to get efficient and effective results, a manager’s purpose is to develop others to reach their full potential. When our focus is on helping others grow and learn, the result is much greater than if we are just driving to get things done.
To be good at managing people, there are going to be things you have to do that will not be comfortable, whether it’s giving feedback, delegating, or holding someone accountable.
These 5 steps will help you get out of your comfort zone so you can be a more effective manager:
Know yourself. What makes you uncomfortable? Whether it’s someone crying, or the thought of being portrayed as the bad guy, or lacking enough trust to hand over a project, most of us have some discomforts! Just being aware of them is powerful.
Accept it. Tell yourself “It’s ok that this makes me uncomfortable. I’m human.” Get over trying to be “perfect”! It’s more important to be authentic.
Remember your purpose as a manager. When you focus on helping others, the reason for giving feedback, or delegating, or holding someone accountable becomes clear. You’ll be more comfortable when you know you’re helping them.
Share your vulnerability (when appropriate). Being honest helps your fears disappear, and it builds trust. Literally sharing it with your team is not unheard of! “Hey guys, you know how I really don’t like holding people accountable - but I’ve got to bring this up, or we won’t make our goal!”
Get help. If you have a discomfort that you’ve worked on but it’s not improving for you, find a mentor or a coach to help you. Sometimes there are deeper beliefs that could be holding us back from the actions we know we need to take. The most successful people I know have hired a coach and/or had a mentor to help them! (I wrote about a client who had great success with this recently in this blog post: The Simplest Way to Make Lasting Change)
We have to remember that by helping to facilitate the growth of the employees on your team, you’re benefitting that person and the organization as a whole. We know it’s not always going to be easy. But guess what? By stretching out of your comfort zone, you are also benefiting yourself. You’re becoming an even better manager, which means less stress and better results!
When you’re struggling with that discomfort, keep in mind - all great things take effort! No pain, no gain, right?
My 360° Leadership Assessment is a great way to lean into this personal development. The assessment is meant for anyone who wants to use 360° feedback as part of their leadership development, whether they’re an emerging leader or an experienced executive. For more information, visit the Unlimited Coaching Solutions 363 Leadership Assessment.