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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 January 18, 2019

          7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

          7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

          Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

          But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

          If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

          1. Limit the time you spend with them.

          First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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          In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

          Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

          2. Speak up for yourself.

          Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

          3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

          This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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          But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

          4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

          Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

          This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

          Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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          5. Change the subject.

          When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

          Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

          6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

          Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

          I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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          You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

          Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

          7. Leave them behind.

          Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

          If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

          That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

          You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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