This afternoon I was talking to a client and discussing the performance appraisal process. I mentioned one of the downfalls was that many supervisors are hesitant to be candid with employees and tell them the truth about their bad performance, not necessarily bad enough to fire them but bad enough to say “no raise.” He agreed that the ability to be candid is a key managerial skill.
Returning to my office I opened my mail to find a blog post on candid conversations. I liked the post but a single tip for candid conversations stuck out to me. That tip is “Conclude with a promise.” As Keith Ferrazzi, the noted author and writer of this blog, said:
At the end of every candid conversation, it should be clear what the next steps are. Restate briefly what you’re taking away from the conversation, and if there’s any action item on your plate, restate your commitment to act and, if appropriate, include a rough date for when you hope to pick up the conversation. This maintains the relationship momentum and affirms that the contents of the conversation were important enough to warrant follow-up.
This is very important. This tip shows that what you are engaging in is not merely critique but an effort to improve.
Ferrazzi also offers nine other tips for handling candid conversations. In 10 Valuable Tips to Take the “Awkward” out of Workplace Honesty he offers some great advice on how you can be candid yet helpful and non-threatening. Click on the link to learn more of his tips.
By the way, for those of you who don’t know Ferrazzi, you should. His book Never Eat Alone is a wonderful roadmap on networking. Turns out you can get a copy free. Pretty good deal.