One of the things most self-employed business owners, entrepreneurs and solo professionals dislike is confrontation. What I have seen time and again in my personal business coaching practice is that avoiding confrontation very often causes problems to fester, grow bigger and explode.
Confrontation The Wrong Way
I had a client with seven employees. One employee was the manager over the others. She was confrontational with everyone, including the owners who were in a partnership. But, no one confronted her. When confrontation is one way it really is a form of bullying.
This business, which had been thriving before her arrival, started to slowly head in the wrong direction. Employee morale was bad. The owners saw what was happening but refused to stand up to her. Her bullying and confrontational tactics were about her power, not an effort to improve the business.
Confrontation The Right Way
Confrontation, when used to advance ideas or improvements is good. In fact, you cannot have improvement without questions that confront the status quo. But, when confrontation is purely about personal control it is bad for all concerned, including the person who initiates it.
Small business success, let alone personal success cannot be achieved without others. Confrontation the right way is about “What’s right” not “Who’s Right.” When it is about “Who’s right” it is impossible to build a team and to accomplish goals over the long-term.
No matter how much online training, corporate training, business training, business courses or business skills training you have had confrontation of the wrong type is a difficult challenge.
Too often, people let other people run over them because they do not want confrontation. All this does is encourage the person who is doing the confronting or bullying to do it more. Starting your own business or running a small business has enough challenges but I can assure you as a personal business coach you must have the right mindset about confrontation.
It is hard to accept but confrontation can be a good thing. Confrontation is about clarity. If you think about it, clarity is hard to come by without opposing points of view on complicated and sometimes even simple matters.
Once the business owners I was collaborating with understood that they needed clarity and that confrontation was the means to achieve it they took action. The bullying employee was given a performance review with specific times and incidents where her behavior was not appropriate.
Interestingly, her behavior got worse after the review. Then we knew it was not about her doing a good job but about her having power. But there was a dividend from the confrontation between the owners and the employee.
The other employees saw that the owners were willing to stand up to her. As a result, they started coming forward one by one and telling the owners what was really going on with the business and how she was not doing her job. What they related happened to be true.
The employees confronted the owners and this started the process of bringing clarity. Things became very clear to the point where the owners fired the employee. With this one employee gone turnover decreased over the next year by 70%. Customer satisfaction surveys were increasingly positive. And the best part, the business was a happy place and more profitable.
The next time you are thinking of avoiding confrontation remember this. Confrontation, more often than not is your pathway to clarity and a better future.