I am getting excited as this time next week we will be at the HR Directors Summit in Birmingham and we have a huge stand, two workshops and our Founder, Penny Ferguson is the Keynote Speaker on the first day, Tuesday 22nd.
We were at the event last year and it had a real buzz. We had so many interesting discussions with fellow attendees and learnt so much about the issues currently facing HR Professionals.
The great news was that were inundated with enquiries too, which gave us a huge boost at the time and we came away with great expectations. Fortunately, some of the enquiries did lead to further discussions and programmes being booked. However, I have to admit to feeling some frustration, because so many people who came to talk with us and spent considerable time explaining how our approach would fit with their plans, were impossible to contact after the event.
My main frustration is that, I do believe that most of these people were genuinely interested and it is just pressure of work that has made it so difficult to contact them, otherwise why would they have taken so much time with us, explaining how we could support them. Of course, I understand how the pressure of current economic conditions has added to an already heavy workload and mean that my call is likely to slip down the priority scale. However, if we could help them to develop a more effective leadership culture, then some of the pressures may in turn be relieved. It is the proverbial chicken and egg! If anyone has an answer, please let me know.
However, I do have another frustration, which is more around whether we say what we mean. It is obviously possible that some of the people who came to visit our stand were not really interested, but didn’t like to say so. They may have felt that it was a more polite approach to imply interest at the time, but actually, they are only putting off the inevitable. Either they will have to tell us eventually that they are not interested, or we will spend a lot of time attempting to contact them, without success. I have been involved in sales for many years and obviously accept that this is just part of the process. But it has got me thinking about all the other situations when, as leaders we may be reluctant to give a clear message if we think it might sound negative in any way.
For example, whether at work or in our personal lives, how often do we fail to give absolutely honest and direct feedback in case it creates a difficult conversation? The problem is, as soon as we fail to speak out the first time, it is then harder the next time, so often things have to reach a crisis point and then we snap and probably over react. Why do we assume that people don’t want to hear the truth? It is more about how they hear it – ideally it is factually, clearly and with respect. That way, we know where we stand and what to do about it.
I know that I’d rather know the truth, especially when it comes to a potential client. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or be a pain, so it’s better to know – do you have a genuine interest and therefore do you REALLY want me to contact you?
Emma Littmoden is a partner at leadership programme provider, The Living Leader