Enjoy the A.R.T. of Confrontation

To command is to serve, nothing more, and nothing less.
- André Malraux, French Philosopher

One of the tricks we teach to inspire increased motivation in others is what we call "The A.R.T. of Confrontation." It shows leaders how to enjoy holding people accountable.

Most managers think it's impossible to enjoy holding people accountable. They think it's the hard part of being a manager. They think it's one of the downsides -- a necessary evil associated with the burden of command.

You can see why they don't do a very good job of holding people accountable.

Fortunately, there is an enjoyable way to do it.

When you need to speak to an employee about a behavior or a performance level that is not working for you, experiment with using A.R.T.:

A: First, appreciate and acknowledge the employee for who she is, what she brings to the organization, noting specific strengths and talents. Then give a very, very specific recent example of something that employee did that particularly impressed and benefited you.

R: Next, restate your own commitment to that person. "I believe in you, I hired you because of what I saw in you. I see even more in you than when I hired you. I am committed to your success here. I am devoted to your career, to your being happy and fulfilled." Then, tell that employee exactly and specifically what she can count on, always, from you. List what you do, how you fight for fair pay, how you are available at all times, how you work to always get the employee the tools she needs for success, and so on.

This recommitment places the conversation in the proper context. Ninety percent of managerial "reprimands" are destructive to the manager-employee relationship because they are felt to be out of context. The big picture must be established first, always.

T: Last, track the agreement. You want to track the existing agreement you have with your employee (if there is one) about the matter in question. If there is no existing agreement, you should create one on the spot. Mutually authored with mutual respect.

Agreements are co-creations. They are not mandates or rules. When an agreement is not being kept, bot sides need to put all their cards on the table in a mutually supportive way to either rebuild the agreement or create a new agreement. People will break other people's rules. But people will keep their own agreements.

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