Do you stress about not meeting deadlines? About how to tell the business that the analysis they have requested will take longer than expected? Do you worry that you'll be perceived as a 'no person' when you want to be seen as an enabling partner of performance?
How many times have you sat back and disengaged from a conversation because you don't think it's worth it to speak up?
How much time and effort do you spend not having difficult conversations? What does this cost you?
There is varying research that says it costs between $1,500 and $7,500 for every difficult conversation that isn't had. Imagine that. Think about the number of difficult conversations you're not having each day...now multiply that by the number of your team members?
What is the total cost of inaction?
Avoiding difficult conversations slow us down
One of the biggest challenges of a CFO is that you almost have to have split personalities. On one hand, you are required to be considered, identify problems and be somewhat risk averse to ensure that the numbers are accurate and have integrity. On the other hand, you need to drive performance, to identify commercial opportunities and unlock value for their organisation. This split personality can be a little like watching a Learner drive a manual car - stop, start, stop, start (i.e. the 'bunny hop').
Imagine this - we have great commercial conversations with the business, advising them on how they can deliver better performance by pulling at different levers. Then we go back to our desks, only to have an email sitting in our inbox that informs you that, no - that's not possible, for any number of reasons. Our heart sinks, our stomach drops.
You spend the next few hours worrying about how you're going to have the conversation to let them know the bad news. That it's a compliance thing, 'it's the accounting standards' - something they don't understand or care about. You wonder what it's going to do for your reputation, how you're going to recover, how to ensure that they continue to consult with you about commercial deals well before the eleventh hour.
It ties you in knots and wastes precious time.
Reframing difficult conversations: have these 3 conversations instead
We avoid difficult conversations, not only because they're uncomfortable, but because most of us have been burned before. In one way or another, we have stuck our neck out, been brave and taken a chance. And we've endured painful consequences. Or we've summoned the courage to request an improvement to conditions, we've been told one too many times that change will happen...and it never does.
So we stop. Stop pushing boundaries, stop going the extra mile. We stop having difficult conversations. Thus breeds stagnation and mediocrity.
Does this sound familiar?
What if instead of avoiding difficult conversations we got better at these 3 conversations:
1. Conversations for Clarity
2. Conversatiions for Change
3. Conversations to Celebrate
2. Conversations for change
3. Conversations to celebrate
Which conversation is most important for you and your team right now?
What would be possible for you if they were better at just one of these conversations?
What do you want to be celebrating 90 days from now?