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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 June 13, 2019

          How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

          How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

          Think you have a boring life?

          The definition of boring is dull or not interesting. Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list of 20 things can definitely make any day more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

          Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaning) one!

          1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

          What would he or she want to do right now? Color? Paint? Run around outside? Play dress up? Eat with your hands? Play that instrument hiding in the back of your closet that you haven’t touched in years?

          Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play.

          2. Go Play with Kids

          Speaking of little kids, if you have your own or access to any (in a non-creepy way, like they’re your niece or your best friend’s kid, you get the idea) go play with them!

          They didn’t create an entire show called Kids Say The Darndest Things because kids aren’t hilarious. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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          3. Order a Hot Dog

          While you’re eating it, Google: “What’s in a hot dog?” You decide whether or not you want to finish it.

          4. For the Ladies: Wear Your Sexiest Lingerie Under Your Work Clothes

          Your “little secret” will leave you feeling anything but boring all day!

          5. Play Cell Phone Roulette

          You’ll need at least one buddy for this. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one and call the person.

          You could spark an incredible catch up session or be incredibly awkward. Neither are boring.

          6. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

          Give them to random people who probably don’t get thanked too often for doing what they do ever day.

          Ideas: police officers, librarians, servers, baristas, cab drivers, sanitation workers, teachers, people behind any check out counter, receptionists, your friends, the guy at the falafel stand, etc.

          7. Sign up for a Class in Something You’ve “Always Wanted to Do”, or Something That Makes You Really Uncomfortable

          Ideas: pole dancing, salsa lessons, improv, pottery, cooking, knitting (yup, there are classes for this, too!), karate, boxing, something techy like the workshops they run in Apple stores, get Rosetta Stone and learn that language you’ve always wanted to speak, etc.

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          What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people!

          8. Interview Your Grandparents About Their Lives

          You can bet they’ve had some crazy experiences you probably never knew about.

          9. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

          Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage and just talk funny. And if you’re not, memorize a few of your favorite jokes and tell those!

          10. Do Something for Someone Else That You Wish Someone Would Do for You

          We all have a few ideas on this list. I promise you will feel amazing after and anything but bored.

          11. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

          It doesn’t have to be super complicated. If you need ideas, there’re plenty on Pinterest. Or you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

          12. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

          This will give you something to look forward to.

          Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is same fun and relaxing!

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          13. People Watch

          Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops and train stations are great for this!) and just observe.

          People are infinitely interesting.

          14. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

          Bonus points if it’s a random fruit or veggie.

          15. Dance

          You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

          If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public and get other people involved.

          16. Go to YOUTUBE and Search “Funny Pets” or “Funny Babies”

          This is also a great quickie ab workout as you will be laughing hysterically.

          17. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

          Check out the NY Times Best Sellers lists and grab a new book you can get lost in.

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          18. Step Away from the Computer and Go Get Some Time with People You Care About in Real Life

          Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. You can even share this post with your friends and vote on which one you’d like to do together!

          19. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to Before

          OK, depending on your interests, this one might actually be boring. If you love learning, art or different cultures though, this one is for you!

          20. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

          This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

          Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then start taking your first step to make what you want happen.

          Now go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

          More About Living a Fulfilling Life

          Featured photo credit: Kev Costello via unsplash.com

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