The Business Case for being a great Employer - the How To guide Part Six

Difficult conversations? Why are we still having them?

At Gazella, we’re often asked to support and train managers in having difficult conversations. Not a problem we say but why is it needed? We’ve known for some time that positive communication and well-being at work can have a significant and positive impact on productivity, retention, absenteeism and disciplinary issues.

We’ve also known that younger generations in the workforce are looking for a different relationship with their organisation, and that work-life balance is increasingly important. Whether this is generational or cultural issue, there is little doubt that we need to continually change the focus on how we attract and retain talent and get the best out of people.

Getting better doesn’t come from simply working harder, or faster any longer. It takes development of employees, managers and leaders. And who today has time or money for that?

So how do we break the cycle? The answer is that the best companies are making time and choosing to invest in leadership that fosters a culture of learning, promotes experimentation and encourages failure, making their people more open to change and new ways of working.

Vital to that investment is an emphasis on culture and purpose – and having managers who do what they say and behave ethically, an area featured heavily in the news of late. Where do you start? Defining your values and behaviours is a good first step. Articulating your ‘why’ – why the values and behaviours you have chosen are important to your business and why they set you apart in the eyes of your customers – is the next stage.

Once you know why your business is in business, and how you and your employees are going to work together, the day-to-day aspects of what you do, and how you do it, follow. Knowing where you are going makes setting and measuring your team’s objectives easier, which makes performance conversations and appraisals less confrontational and more productive.

And when everyone knows what you are expecting from them, you can start to grow the strengths in your business rather than focus on weaknesses and stop those difficult discussions with your employees about failures and what needs to be fixed.