Navigating Tricky Conversations for Business Growth: Insights from Jacqui Obeng, UK Business Coach

In the pursuit of elevating your business to the top echelons of your industry, having a solid strategy and ambitious goals is essential. However, one crucial factor often overlooked is the quality of your team. According to Jacqui Obeng, a renowned business coach based in the UK, exceptional people are the key to achieving extraordinary results.

In a recent discussion, Jacqui emphasized the exponential nature of cognitive talent, asserting that talented, engaged A-Players are at least 5 times more productive than their average counterparts, without significantly increasing costs. Unfortunately, many businesses settle for mediocrity, hindering their growth potential.

The reluctance to address issues surrounding performance and team fit can act as a drag anchor on your business. Jacqui advises against burying your head in the sand and hoping for improvement; instead, she advocates for facing these conversations head-on for the sake of business growth.

Starting at the Top

Jacqui emphasizes that these conversations must start at the executive level. Leaders must evaluate the performance of their top team members by asking two critical questions: “If they resigned tomorrow, would I be disappointed?” and “Knowing what I know about them now, would I rehire them in 2023?” The answers should be a resounding “yes,” and any hesitation indicates a need for immediate action.

Defining Excellence

To navigate tricky conversations effectively, it’s crucial to establish a framework that defines what constitutes an A-Player in your business. Jacqui recommends incorporating a behavioral framework aligned with core values and introducing KPIs and job scorecards for clear performance measurement against benchmarks.

Consequences for Poor Performance

Openness and honesty are key components of performance conversations. Jacqui suggests discussing potential consequences for continued poor performance upfront. Instead of waiting until it’s too late, give individuals the opportunity to improve by setting targets and conducting regular check-ins.

Avoiding the Praise Trap

Jacqui warns against praising average performers excessively, as it can hinder honest performance conversations. A culture of honest feedback ensures that B-Players either raise their game or vacate the seat for an A-Player, ultimately improving overall productivity.

Coaching Managers for Difficult Conversations

Understanding that managers might shy away from difficult conversations, Jacqui advises coaching them to stay calm, unemotional, and focused on facts. Benchmarking against existing A-Players in the team provides a clear standard for performance expectations.

Confronting Character Issues

For character-related issues, Jacqui introduces the ‘Circles of Trust’ exercise. This exercise helps bring underlying team dynamics to the surface, allowing for controlled confrontations and resolution of disquiet within the team.

Encouraging Feedback with ‘Stop, Start, Continue’

Jacqui promotes a culture of open feedback by using the ‘Stop, Start, Continue’ approach. This tool encourages team members to provide constructive feedback on behaviors that need to stop, start, or continue for the team to excel.

In conclusion, Jacqui Obeng’s insights emphasize the importance of tackling performance-related issues head-on to foster a high-performing team and drive business growth. By implementing these strategies and making difficult conversations a cultural norm, businesses can unlock substantial benefits in productivity, engagement, and overall performance.


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