According to a recent poll by premier training organization and PACE client, Seattle based Fierce Inc.,  46% of us think our organizations are often “more nice than effective”!

What’s nice?

Sometimes it’s as simple as avoiding the difficult and often confrontational conversations that need to happen regularly in order to keep high performance organizations and teams on track.  Often its keeping a difficult issue under wraps – not letting it come to the surface where something short of “nice” might be the outcome.

Think about this scenario which relates to our business.  You’ve recently added a temporary employee to your team and while you know they have the skills and experience to do well in their new role, their performance isn’t quite hitting your expectations.  They’re making occasional errors, but even more importantly, they are not asking for input before they start doing things incorrectly.   You know you should be giving feedback, addressing issues as they come up, but when you gave that a try last week, you noticed some defensiveness.  Even when others on your team start to complain, you’ve decided to be nice – to give the “temp” a bit more time to “work it out” rather than have a difficult conversation now.

What’s the overall impact of your decision?   On your personal productivity?  On the “temp’s” productivity?   On  morale?  On your reputation as a leader?

Yes, you’ve chosen nice over effective, but for you, it’s just this once and it’s only a “temp.”  But what if other leaders in your organization are making the same or similar decisions and not just about their temporary employees but about their core employees as well? What if you and other leaders are avoiding difficult conversations altogether or delaying them until they feel the time is right?  What is the cost of being nice regarding your team’s effectiveness? What about on your organization’s effectiveness?

Experts project that productivity losses and miscues from conversations either not had or had poorly, can be as high as 50% of an organization’s potential.

Fierce has developed a world class employee training and organizational development program based on the simple but powerful truth that when it comes to management and leadership, our conversations, the ones we have and the ones we don’t have, are what defines who we are and the value we deliver as leaders.  Fierce believes that a company’s culture gets created by its leaders and employees, one conversation at a time!  

What we know from our perch as a temporary staffing agency is that when we put a temporary employee to work in a new work environment, there are many conversations that need to take place between them and our customer to make sure they know when they are or are not meeting the expectations.  If those conversations don’t happen, we know our employee often misses the information they need to be successful in their role.  The same is true for core employees.  The longer a manager delays having what they think might be a difficult conversation, the more likely the conversation will actually be a difficult one when they actually have it. In other words…

…a “culture of nice” can work against a “culture of effective”!

In a recent webinar conducted by Beth Wagner, a Fierce Conversations Master facilitator, we learned that there are  three categories of conversations leaders need to have regularly (and successfully) in order to move the organizational performance needle from nice to effective.    She provides concrete techniques for how to have these conversations in a way that focuses on the results you need – how to be “nice” in all the ways that ultimately matter to the team’s or the individual’s success.

Because the PACE team thought this was such a powerful webinar, we wanted to share it with our Faster PACE readers!   Even though it’s not just about “staffing”, it’s about management and leadership which is always part of the staffing mix.

Check out the FIERCE webinar here.  For access to more information on a variety of Fierce Conversation topics, check out their resource library at


Img: Jeanne Knutzen

This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network, a Best of Staffing winner and  leading Northwest staffing company who has been helping  local employers find and hire high talent employees for over 40 years.  For additional ideas on how you can tackle the current marketplace – find and hire the employees you need for your 2018 business plan – contact the PACE team at 425-637-3312 or email

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