Two mean talking while sitting at a table.

The One Person You Need In Your Corner When Making Tough Work Decisions

When you’re making tough decisions for your work team, you want a lot of people backing you up and supporting you.

You want to feel like you’re getting support from:

  • Your manager
  • Your executive team
  • Your right-hand team member
  • Your employees
  • Your partner
  • Your mentor

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to be the kind of leader people love to follow and support.

In addition to that long list of people you want cheering you on, there’s one other person you need in your corner. And they may not always be cheering you on, either.

You need a neutral party supporting you when you’re in a leadership role. You need to have a person who can see past their emotional connection with you, someone who can tell you – with empathy, but in a straightforward manner – what you need to do when making tough decisions or handling frustrating situations.

What Type of People Can Fill the Role Of Neutral Party?

It can be tempting to talk over all your work issues to a friend, your book club or your partner. Remember when you’re considering sharing – those people are all meant to be in your corner.

When you ask them to talk with you about work issues, especially issues where you might need to make changes in your behavior or decision-making processes, you put them in a bad position. You’re asking them to guide you to do better and you’re asking them to critique your behavior while still maintaining a positive relationship with you in other aspects of your life.

Instead of asking your partner to be a friend, co-parent, love interest AND career confidant, consider connecting with one of these professionals instead:

A Work Friend

Talking to a friend from work can feel very productive when you’re trying to make a difficult decision.

There are pros and cons to this approach, though.

When you talk over decisions with a work friend, they’re in the same work ecosystem, so they know all the players involved. They know the office politics and the idiosyncrasies of your organization’s executives. And, they know you and the way you usually work, so they may be able to point out blind spots or behaviors that may not be apparent when you’re recounting your experiences to someone from outside the work ecosystem.

A friend may have difficulty being forthright with you if you have behaviors that need to change, though. They may feel uneasy communicating with you about something you’ve done wrong, or about suggesting moves that might hurt your feelings.

If you need a conversation to remain confidential, especially in regard to issues like employee coaching or conflict management, it may be unwise to discuss those with an in-the-office friend. No matter how high your level of trust is with them, you don’t want to put them in an uncomfortable situation.

A Therapist

A therapist can help you understand the complex emotions related to your work interactions and decision-making processes. They can help you determine which emotions are driving the choices you’re making, so you can consciously work to channel those emotions more effectively.

Talking with a therapist can also help you ensure you’re not letting your work situation overtake your personal life, supporting you as you draw boundaries and manage stress.

One drawback of communicating solely with a therapist may be a lesser understanding of the business culture; while they can help you understand how you should communicate emotions, it may be your responsibility to figure out how to make the approach appropriate to your work environment and the title/seniority level of the colleagues you’re dealing with.

If you work with a therapist as your neutral person, your company may offer resources like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that gives you free or affordable confidential access to therapists and counselors who can guide you through difficult times, both professionally and personally.

A Coach

Working with a business or leadership coach can give you a productive outlet for discussing difficult decisions that could impact your work credibility and career success.

Coaches can give you overall leadership guidance and put you on a long-term path to success. Coaching programs can also be utilized to pinpoint a specific issue or area for improvement, then focus on those opportunities.

Specific workplace and business knowledge is the biggest benefit that comes with using a coach as your neutral party. These professionals have years of experience handling the same types of issues you’re facing, and they’ll be able to give you feedback that takes into consideration office politics, roles, job titles and egos.

In addition to helping you work through specific situations or conflict management-type problems, coaches can also help you build plans that mitigate stress over the long term. You can work with a coach to:

  • Set long term goals
  • Prepare to ask for a raise, promotion or added responsibility
  • Improve public speaking skills
  • Complete capacity planning for your team
  • Prepare to return to work amid a pandemic (especially if you’re juggling other priorities like parenting and homeschooling
  • Be a stronger, more confident leader

No matter who you decide to talk to about your difficult work decisions, talking them through is important and valuable. Research shows the act of putting feelings into words can be very therapeutic; having these conversations can help you improve your productivity and make better, more confident decisions in the long run.

Need to talk through tough decisions with a coach? Just In Time Coaching gives you access to knowledgeable coaching and leadership professionals without a long-term coaching commitment. Connect with a coach to focus on a specific area for improvement and maintain the relationship for as long as it supports your goals.