Conversations in the workplace matter. They have the single biggest impact on building corporate culture, Vibe™, momentum and ultimately, results. And yet, so few organizations invest into training their people in how to navigate conversations that have meaningful outcomes. We call these conversations, Deliberate Dialogues.™
After more than twenty years of coaching leaders on how to mobilize highly productive teams, we found that conversations which have a transformative result incorporate a couple of simple elements. Simple, but not always easy. Good conversations require both courage and care…the courage to say the hard thing and deep care about the person with whom you are speaking.
The 90 Second Planner devotes an entire section to navigating these important conversations with triggers to help you plan for them, as well as plenty of space to take notes. Taking notes is crucial because
1) It makes people feel like this is an important conversation and what they say matters, and
2) Notes are the birthplace of accountability. Without clarity and commitment, it is nearly impossible to hold someone accountable for outcomes.
Below are some simple steps to conversations that result in the greatest tool for multiplying your time.
Always Start with a Personal Check-In
Similar to when you lead meetings, it is important to check-in on a personal level and connect before launching into the conversation. You can do this briefly and communicate that you care about the person with whom you are speaking. Investing these few moments builds trust (relational deposit), and avoids misunderstandings (relational withdrawal.)
State the Purpose of the Conversation
It’s important to clarify the purpose of the conversation and tell the person up front what you want to address. A few examples:
- Denise, I would like to talk about how we can work together to increase your production numbers.
- Sal, let’s talk about the tension that is growing between you and a co-worker.
- Janice, we need to talk about ways to increase the profitability of your division.
Given a choice between hearing bad news and good news, most people want to hear the bad news first, so they know what they are addressing. Avoid using the sandwich method of discussing hard issues, (definition: Compliment – Deliver Bad News – Compliment again.) People see through this and would rather you talk straight to them.
Ask Quality Questions and Listen for Insights
Managers who prefer only telling people what to do rather than engaging in a two-way conversation, run the risk of misunderstandings, incomplete assignments, and unenthusiastic engagement. To multiply your time, get good at asking insightful questions as you lead. Listen with a sense of curiosity, and you will uncover faster, more efficient ways of doing things. When you believe that you have all of the right information, you become limited to the solutions and approaches only in your head. Your people may carry out those tasks, but they will tend to do it without any ownership of the result. Great leaders don’t listen waiting for their turn to talk again; they know how to ask great questions and listen for understanding. It is dialogues, not monologues that build influence.
Clarify Your Requests: Don’t Imply, Clarify.
Determine what is most important to say and don’t neglect to say it! It is best to ask up front for the result you are striving to achieve. When managers hint at desired changes, they risk misunderstandings which usually require several more conversations later. A manager who intentionally has regular check-ins and coaching time with their direct reports is going to multiply their time by addressing obstacles when they are small and easy to address.
Take Notes – It Makes People Feel Fascinating!
When you take notes on things people say, it communicates that you value what they are saying, and that you care about their perspective and input, it also gives them a sense of feeling heard. Taking notes also encourages people to consider the statements they make more carefully. The additional benefits of conversation note-taking include being equipped with written understanding for holding people accountable, information for giving rewards, insights for conducting reviews, as well as documentation for disciplinary action if required.
Ask for Take-Aways and Commitments
At the end of your time together, ask people what they are taking away and what they are committing to accomplishing. This portion should only take about 90 Seconds and will save you hours later in cleaning up any misunderstandings.
Make it easier on yourself. Order your copy of The 90 Second System to Get Stuff Done by clicking here.