Most of us can identify past moments when we said or did something that was misperceived or misunderstood.
Sometimes we are fully aware of the relational tension created by those moments. It’s also possible that we missed the signals of the intensity we initiated by the attitudes, words, or actions.
Regardless, the end of the year provides a time to clear the air. The very nature of our year-end holidays provides a motivation and occasion to make things right with those we lead.
Many organizations include the year-end review of team members. Those are perhaps already completed by now. If you missed the opportunity, you still have time to check back and simply ask if there is any interpersonal unfinished business that needs to be addressed in order to move forward in a more positive way.
Two scenarios warrant attention:
- You were wrong. Admit your mistake, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. We all make mistakes. Model this for every direct report to influence how they lead as well.
- You were misunderstood. Start by listening without justifying or explaining away what was said or done. Then tell your side of the story while committing to the effort needed to change perceptions in the future. Your intent may have been noteworthy, but how you were perceived is the reality of how others continue to see you.
Who – Ask your direct reports.
What – Let them identify the unfinished business.
When – Before the end of the year.
Where – In private on their turf not your office.
Why – To strengthen the culture and climate of your team.
How – Humbly and vulnerably.