As part of increasingly complex work lives, we are often part of difficult conversations.

Sometimes, clients get upset. Sometimes, other person falls short of THE expectations. Sometimes, conflict just arise out of nowhere. Sometimes, they escalate into full-blown war of words. Sometimes, person you delegated work fails to get it done properly. Sometimes, person at other end breaks the trust. Sometimes, person misses his commitments. Sometimes, shit just happens out of the blue.

Often, first reaction to handle such crisis is – shoot the other guy. Afterall, it is so easy to tell other person that ‘He did not perform as expected’. Does that remind you of typical performance assessment conversations ? . It puts other person on the defensive. Often, you get a feeling that you are not really getting anywhere. Then, you end up showing authority and try to force ‘co-operation’ out of that person.

‘If you are not going to co-operate, then I will put you in Performance Improvement Plan. I will give lower ratings.’ .So, it most likely ends up in ‘Carrot & Stick’ approach. You get a satisfaction that you showed your authority and got the work done finally. Person at the receiving end accepts result meekly and wait for another day.

Sometime later, you see that person resign from Organization or start looking for another opportunity. If not, he just resorts to invisible non-cooperation.

So, how many situations end up like this ? I think, almost all of them.

When I put forth this question to seasoned (and very well-liked) leader in IT recently, he shared simple secret.

He mentioned ,

” I always start such conversation with premise that ‘Everyone comes to the job to PERFORM, to get the work done” .

This premise changes  tone of the conversation altogether. Then, it prompts you to think – ‘Why is he not able to perform ?’. Whether I am properly delegating work ? Am  I instructing/training him correctly to get job done? Does he have right tools ? How can I help him to stay motivated ? Does the job align with his skills/passions ?

Then, he mentioned ,

“That is where MAGIC happens”.

Since you would ask questions like – How do I really help you to perform ? What can WE do to fix it ?.

Once other person knows that you trust him to perform, he will move mountains to get the job done.

How come organizations miss this simple lesson in Human Psychology ? To get trustworthy employees, learn to trust them to Perform first.