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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.

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          Piotr Nabielec

          Author, CEO, Consultant

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          Last Updated on July 3, 2020

          30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

          30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

          In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

          1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

          Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

          2. Focus on your breath

          Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

          3. Get organized and purge old items

          A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

          4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

          Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

          5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

          Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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          6. Smile more

          Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

          7. Don’t worry about the future

          As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

          8. Eat real food

          The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

          9. Choose being happy over being right

          Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

          10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

          Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

          11. Make use of filtering features on social media

          You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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          12. Get comfortable with silence

          When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

          13. Listen to understand, not to respond

          So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

          14. Put your troubles in a bubble

          Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

          15. Speak more slowly

          Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

          16. Don’t procrastinate

          Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

          17. Buy a coloring book

          Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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          18. Prioritize yourself

          You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

          19. Forgive others

          Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

          20. Check your expectations

          Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

          21. Engage in active play

          Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

          22. Stop criticizing yourself

          The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

          23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

          Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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          24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

          Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

          25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

          Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

          26. Manage your money

          Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

          27. Stop trying to control everything

          Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

          28. Practice affirmations

          Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

          29. Get up before sunrise

          Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

          30. Be yourself

          Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

          Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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