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How to Start Effective Conversations with Your Employees

How to Start Effective Conversations with Your Employees

Starting effective conversations, especially about career choices, may be difficult. When it comes to meeting effectiveness in general, the first few minutes are the most important ones: they set the goal, focus level, and atmosphere, which are very hard to change later. How could the first minutes of effective conversations look?

We need to establish an atmosphere that will give us feelings and facts that we can discuss, but can also open the discussion and stimulate more questions and ideas, rather than closing them down to just discussing a few pre-prepared bullet points.

Challenge, Fun, Team

There is a very simple technique that I found very successful in serving that purpose. There are three simple questions to ask:

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  • What is your challenge level?
  • What is your fun level?
  • How do you rate your team?

All you need is a sheet of paper—draw three bars on it, explain what they mean, and ask your employee to put three dots on the bars.

Challenge, Fun, Team

    The order is really important: challenge, fun, team. Challenge opens the discussion with the right question: “Am I using my skills effectively and do I feel I am developing?” Fun connects strongly with both challenge level and the team perception, that’s why it’s in the middle. Team is a very important factor, too; no action is meaningless in a community.

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    Examples

    There are few typical examples that I found through that exercise:

    1. Not challenged enough
      Underchallenged person
        Typically that person will be unsatisfied with their work, and may be thinking about changing their job. Their ratings for “fun” and “team” are usually very low as well. People who aren’t challenged enough aren’t motivated, and can demotivate the team in a downward spiral as well.
      • Over-challenged
        Over-challenged person

          As you increase the challenge level, so does the fun. However, there is a point at which the person becomes over-challenged, which kills the fun aspect because of stress and anxiety. In that area, levels of fun and job dedication depend strongly on the team. Once I was told that the person is radically over-committed, but the team is so great that it made projects really enjoyable. Of course this can’t work long-term, but it reveals very important information to you before it’s too late.
        • Great team
          Great Team
            There were few examples in which people rated the team with the max score. They told me that if they were to prepare another wedding the next month, the entire team would be invited! Would you like to work in such a team? It’s of vital importance to award such people: consider organizing a great event for the team—possibly during working hours. This show of appreciation generally works much better than any other incentive. When you have a great team, you need to be very careful about re-organizations, or people quitting their jobs, as such things will greatly destabilize the team as a working unit.

          Effective Conversations

          What I like about this exercise is that it gives you a lot of information, and opens up a really great and honest discussion at the same time:

          “You said you were not challenged enough. What would be a positive challenge for you?”

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          “Your task is critical to us and you are doing well at it, but it seems you are not enjoying it at all. How could we change that?”

          “You said you were challenged, but it seems that you find no fun in your work. Why?”

          “It seems that as a person you are challenged appropriately and have real fun, but you rate your team with a very low score. Why?”

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          By asking such questions, people will not only tell you what the problem is, but in most cases they will give you the solution right away. People do not want to be a part of the problem: they want to be a part of the solution.

          Career conversations are a hot topic right now. As coaching becomes more and more popular, many managers read books related to career conversations like “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go” or consider using DixIt cards to talk about emotions. They may, however, miss this “standard tool” method that they could use for longer periods of time.

          This tool worked well in my case and I hope it will also be very successful for you.

          More by this author

          Piotr Nabielec

          Author, CEO, Consultant

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          Last Updated on September 20, 2018

          7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

          7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

          What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

          For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

          It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

          1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

          The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

          What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

          The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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          2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

          Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

          How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

          If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

          Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

          3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

          Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

          If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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          These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

          What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

          4. What are my goals in life?

          Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

          Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

          5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

          Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

          Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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          You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

          Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

          6. What do I not like to do?

          An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

          What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

          Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

          The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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          7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

          Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

          But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

          “What do I want to do with my life?”

          So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

          Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

          Reference

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