Ever have someone on your team who is always late?

Annoyed, you ignore it for a while, hoping it will resolve itself. “Surely, they know it’s not acceptable,” you think to yourself as they walk into the office (or the meeting) late again. You shot them the look, hoping this time they’ll get the point. With that, you let it go.

Until they do it again, and again.

Done enough times in a row, you blow your lid, and give them a piece of your mind.

“Do you want to explain yourself? Why are you late all the time?” Denise, a leader in my audience commanded of her employee who was persistently late.

“It took me a while to get to this point,” Denise said, “But I finally got sick of this woman coming in late. I called her into my office, sat her down, and demanded that she explain herself.

“Her eyes welled up, and her voice shook as she said, ‘My husband left me this morning,’” Denise shared, “I felt awful, and there was nothing I could say after that. If I would have had your process for giving feedback, I would have started the conversation by asking her, ‘Is now a good time?’”

Perhaps an even better question for the moments leading up to that moment might have been—“Is everything okay?” Such kindness in the face of frustrating moments is the building block for trust to emerge. When spoken with sincerity, such words translate into a strong foundation for engagement and productivity to soar.

“Whoa! Wait just a moment,” you say to me, “That question could open up a can of worms I don’t want to deal with.”

Yes, it could.

It could also open up a can of commitment and dedication beyond your imagination. Compassionate, candid feedback requires trust, which is generated as a result of these types of honest, caring, conversations.

Imagine the difference in engagement you can create by intentionally checking in with your employees, colleagues and treasured customers. By knowing how they’re doing as a person, you arm yourself with exactly the information you need to deepen trust.

Want better results from your team? The process begins with putting time and energy into getting to know the people you want to impact.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister