3 Reasons Small Business Leaders Don’t Communicate As They Should

One of the keys to the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship was coach Jill Ellis’ ability to communicate promptly, directly and candidly with her team members. (see this blog article)

Not enough small business owners communicate with employees in this manner, even though they know they should.

But, knowing and doing are two different things.

Three fears prevent small business leaders from communicating as they know they should:

  • Fear of being unfair
  • Fear of saying the wrong thing or the right thing in the wrong way
  • Fear of the reaction
  • Fear of Being Unfair
    In a recent seminar three small business leaders admitted one of their concerns in directly addressing performance issues with employees is there own uncertainty with having originally communicated their expectations properly. Their fear was that without having set expectations at the beginning, giving constructive feedback to the employee would be unfair.

This creates a real conundrum they have to get over because in avoiding this conversation poor performance perpetuates.

  • Fear of Saying the Wrong Thing or the Right Thing in the Wrong Way
    Few small business leaders are confident and comfortable with the proper way to frame candid and frank conversations with team members so that it gets the desired result. Because of the uncertainty of how to best frame the conversation, they avoid them.
  • Fear of the Reaction
    Having candid conversations with employees can go one of three ways and leaders are uncertain about how to address at least two of these three.

    The employee will either :

    • Embrace the feedback and adjust their performance and behaviors
    • Resist the feedback and get defensive, making excuses and blame external factors
    • Seem to embrace the feedback, while acting passive-aggressive moving forward

These three fears prevent small business leaders from having the conversations they should be having with employees, and prevents them from communicating to motivate.

Next time, we’ll explore strategies to get everyone motivated to contribute to “teamwork.”

’til next time, to add to the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “3 Reasons Small Business Leaders Don’t Communicate As They Should

  1. Dan says:

    Skip, I entirely agree on all points.
    Perhaps my greatest breakthrough in business came from properly understanding how to have candid conversations. About 7 years ago, an R&D manager attended a critical design meeting and challenged the technical progress of a project, belittling the R&D scientist who was presenting. Then, without warning, the manager stormed out of the room, saying no documents would be signed. As project manager, it was my job to pick up the pieces, so I candidly approached the R&D manager to talk through the path forward. I made it clear this behavior was not acceptable from a personal level, despite the technical challenges facing the project. Believe it or not, this candid talk created a mutual respect with the R&D manager and we continue to work well together. You see, the right conversation at the right time can change everything. Before this incident, I simply wouldn’t have had the “guts” to approach a senior manager this way. None of this would have been possible if my supervisor wouldn’t have coached me on the right approach, instilling confidence so I could properly handle the situation. Of all the business skills you have, candid communication is right at the top!

  2. Skip Weisman says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing. I’m pleased you were able to develop the mindset and the skill behind candid/direct communication and working towards mastering Critical Leadership Communication Skill #7 – Direct/Candid Conversations.
    Thanks for stopping by and being inspired to comment. Please come back again.

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