developUs Blog

May 1, 2023 in Blog

Difficult Conversations

Some time ago we hired a contract content marketing guru to help us get set up to run email marketing campaigns.

We have all of these amazing programs that we were delivering to our private corporate audience that we wanted to distribute to a public audience in the form of an open enrollment workshop.

This required a change in strategy – and we needed help.

Finding 30 people to sign up for a workshop was a whole lot different than finding one client to give us 30 people.

Enter Jason Owens. (Names have not been changed. We like promoting the fabulous people we work with, even if they are not 100% ours to brag about.)

Jason is an absolute rock star in terms of knowledge about email marketing and in particular, InfusionSoft.

He’s added value in ways I can’t even begin to describe, is a pleasure to work with, is 100% ROI-focused, and in general is an amazing, value-driven professional.

But that’s not why we love him.

See, we have a culture around here, and that culture requires people be brave.

Working with developUs is not for the faint of heart. We challenge each other to be better every day, and we require feedback from our colleagues and partners in order to thrive. We have the hard conversations with each other, our customers, and our coaching clients.

My entire team knows that you have to be willing to manage UP the chain in order to survive here.

No one has a superiority complex, and egos are left at the door.

If you are not willing to help me and the rest of the team understand the impact of our shortcomings in a respectful, caring, development-focused way, your tenure is short here.

Only those who are (or want to learn to be) both brave and caring need apply.

How to Make Difficult Conversations Really Work

That brings me to the reason for this post. Jason and I have a standing meeting on Monday that we put into effect a few weeks ago to establish a dedicated time to check in on both progress and strategic direction.

At first, the meetings were not on my calendar, so I missed the first one. The second week, I was onsite with a client and forgot to tell him that I couldn’t meet.

I sent him a text a few minutes before our scheduled time stating that I had to reschedule. So we did, for noon a few days later.

That day approached and at 11:58 I sent another message saying I was wrapping up a client and would reach out as soon as possible. At 12:20 I called.

Some may say, “Those are valid excuses, and at least you didn’t stand him up totally!”.

I’d imagine that those of you having that response may be guilty of similar behavior. But the fact of the matter is that I was being a terrible partner.

And he called me out on it.

Jason delivered the feedback to me in a way that was direct yet respectful and helped me understand my impact. But furthermore, his direct attention to my piss poor partner behavior compelled me to do better.

He could have just accepted the apology I delivered upon answering the phone and moved on, but he didn’t.

We teach people that feedback is a gift no matter how it’s wrapped because people wouldn’t tell you it if didn’t matter & they didn’t care.
Immediately after my call that day with Jason I called Kelly DeMario.

Kelly is our Experience Manager and if I could clone her, mark her up, and sell carbon copies of her to the world I’d retire next year to a yacht in the South Pacific and live out my life knowing I’d done the world an amazing service.

She is part southern charm (she’s sweet as pie) and part northern fire (HATES, I mean HATES to lose), and lives every day with a commitment to this team’s success that I can’t put to words.

Aside from the multitude of sanity saving services she provides to our team and our clients, she reigns as Queen of our culture. She gets it. Heart and soul.

Jason’s bravery and delivery of the message to me were so brilliant, I asked Kelly if he had spoken to him and “prepped” him for the conversation. She had no idea what I was talking about.

The Point is to Commit to the Relationship

Jason just approached relationships in the very ways that we spend our lives teaching other leaders to approach them. In that moment, I knew he got it too.

Jason went from a valuable asset to a valued member of our team in one conversation, with no coaching.

Jason’s message was as important for him to deliver as it was for me to hear.

And hear it I did.

You might want to ask him, but I think my behavior has changed based upon that conversation.

If he hadn’t been brave enough to speak it, he most likely would have found himself on the receiving end of another apology in a few weeks.

I thanked Jason for having the conversation, and he, in turn, thanked me for being receptive.

We both left feeling better about the partnership and with a reinvigorated commitment to each other and the work we are doing together. I thanked Jason for his bravery, made sure he knew that these conversations were critical to our individual and collective success, and I value them more than any single email campaign he’s ever built.

He shared that he was compelled to have the conversation even though he’s been in similar situation with a few other clients, and after sharing the feedback, has never heard from them again.

I don’t know who you are, but Shame. On. You.

When you find someone who is not only a high performer but who has the ability to make you better, to hold you accountable for your behaviors, who can be honest and respectful… you better keep them.

There is no better gold in this world.

Think I’m crazy? Not ready to hear the gift in the feedback that your team has to give you?

Skip the info@developUs approach and call me directly (704.293.9399).

You’re missing a HUGE opportunity to get better, do better, and be better. And as for Jason, if you haven’t contracted his services, you should. As far as Kelly, our Experience Manager goes?

She’s all ours – so step back Jack. Go find your own experience miracle-maker.

But feel free to come meet her at any one of our upcoming events. Hope to see you there, where we will be hard at work making leaders better leaders and teams better teams and looking for more Jasons to join our crew.

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