Managerial courage is a skill that some bold entrepreneurs are surprised to find they are not adept at practicing in contrast to their otherwise well honed tool kit. For some, there is a level of frustration and then avoidance in confronting their employees sub-par performance. For others, there is sheer discomfort in what they foresee as a confrontational show-down that they don’t think they have the energy, time or experience in navigating. Either way, if you want to survive as a small business owner, as Michael Gerber asserts in his E-Myth series, you have got to divvy up your time and skills into part entrepreneur, part business owner and part manager.
Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger define managerial courage as, “saying what needs to be said at the right time, to the right person, in the right manner’ in their book, ‘For Your Improvement’. Here are their ten suggested remedies:
1. Check it out. Verify the facts of the situation, analyze the situation thoroughly. When you have clarified what you want to say in a few clear statements and have given yourself the time to ensure your message-it is time to deliver your stand.
2. Delivering the information. Strive to deliver your message directly to the person who can do the most with it. Don’t use indirect messages or messengers.
3. The message. Be succinct, go from specific to general, stay purely factual, non-emotional. If others are not composed, just stick to your message.
4. Bring a solution if you can. Provide a path toward an improved outcome.
5. Tough concern. Be prepared to convey empathy for their emotional response if needed. Mentally rehearse for worst case scenarios.
6. Timing. Set up the meeting beforehand to deliver you message and explain very briefly what will be discussed in the meeting. Make the meeting private and allow for adequate time to process.
7. Don’t shy away from delivering a message because you fear conflict. You will end up having to spend inordinate amounts of time and energy cleaning up the mess down the road if you don’t manage the situation as it is right now.
8. Is it personal? Separate the event from the person. Just deliver the message enough so you are sure they understand it. Don’t seek instant acceptance-give it time.
9. If you must. If your message is rejected, covered, denied, hidden or glossed over and you have stuck to a message of a specific problem and consequence-go up the chain of command or if you are the top, it is time to enforce consequences.
10. Put balance in your message. Balance the scales by positively reinforcing their changed behavior or outcome.
Do these suggestions resonate with you? Tell me about a situation where you exercised managerial courage.