It’s Time to be Nimble – A response to Sydney Morning Herald article by Pru Goward
There was a fascinating article written by Pru Goward, the former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, in the Sydney Morning Herald this week about government culture and the challenges relating to performance feedback. The essential tenants of this article were that people need to respond rapidly in a crisis and to do this governments need to get rid of unnecessary clogs in the wheel that get it the way of nimbleness.
One of the key “clogs” is the management of unacceptable behaviour. Whilst Ms Goward suggested this has never been fully costed, she speculated that the cost must be considerable. The article concludes with a request to simplify and make staff management processes nimbler, with clear expectations and consequences for those who don’t meet the standards.
As I read this, I reflected on the work we do with our clients on providing performance feedback. This area continues to be one of the most challenging aspects of a leaders’ role, whether the leader is a front-line manager or Chairman of the Board.
We have been working with clients on a concept called “Compassionate Directness”, a term introduced by Arianna Huffington a little over 12 months ago. We believe that creating a culture of continuous and honest feedback is a key factor to enable employees and businesses to grow. The combination of both words “compassion” and “directness” is key.
Leaders often need to develop the skill of giving honest and direct feedback to their team members in a regular and timely fashion without ‘softening it’ so much the message is lost. They also need to learn to deliver this direct feedback with kindness and compassion; again, this is often something that creates a lot of discomfort for leaders. So, they need a lot of help and support to learn to be both direct and compassionate.
When we are able to provide development opportunities for leaders to hone these skills we see them start to have the conversations that matter. With the art of compassionate directness, the clogs in management can be shaken off, positive culture thrives and organisations become nimble – just what we most need now and in the coming years.