Habits for Communicating what Matters
Updated: May 31, 2021
You’ve skirted the issue, avoided the topic, ignored the opportunity to step into the conversation you need to have. Why?
Avoidance Perhaps, like so many, you’re not that comfortable with asking for what you want when it comes to learning about your performance, or what you do well, or how they view your work. As a leader, you even wonder if you’re supposed to be asking for this type of information. Won’t this information come your way whenever you’re supposed to hear it? Not likely – unless you are part of a highly engaged organization…
Is feedback still a thing? Gallup reports that while managers are responsible for around 70% of the variance in their employees’ engagement, and employees whose managers regularly communicate with them are nearly three times more engaged than those with irregular communication. 43% of those that report being highly engaged at work also report receiving feedback at least once a week.
Where’s my feedback? If you are not part of the 43% of highly engaged employees who receive feedback at least once a week, then learning how to ask for the feedback you need is vital to feeling in control of where your career efforts are headed.
This is where stepping into conversations is crucial – both from the perspective of gaining information about what is going right – and from the perspective of controlling when information comes your way that may not be welcomed.
Gaining what you need Asking for positive information is a skill that has been largely untapped. Teachers, Doctors, and Litigators are all taught how to ask questions to assess and gain insights as part of their profession. The rest of us have somehow been limited to ‘How do I improve?’
The beauty of offering you the following framework to gain information; is that when you do implement this type of conversation, the other person feels equally seen, heard, and valued. And, you don’t give away your control or dominate the conversation. It creates a true exchange of professional courtesy.
The 4 parts of a great conversation There are 4 elements that create a great conversation and helps leaders and employees have better connections:
Make sure that every conversation includes the correct context. This sets both parties up for a clear and concise topic to reference. When someone feels they are set up for success on what you want to talk about, they feel seen and respected.
Only ask for one thing during this conversation. There is neuroscience at play here. When one asks for the one thing that is the most valuable, most important, or most desired – it allows the person being asked to easily offer that one thing without confusion. Asking for more isn’t as effective. Limiting your asks to the one thing that is most important shows that you value the importance of the information gained.
Ask for an example of how they see it. This is where all conversations get richer in quality. You are asking to see something from the other person’s perspective. This shows that you are acknowledging that you both think differently; and that you want to get clarity on their vision.
Ask what and how questions (instead of why) to determine the actions they would recognize, support, or even step in and do with you.
Here is an example of a personal performance topic This is when you want to take the information offered and create new momentum. It keeps the conversation moving forward.
“I’d like to step into a quick conversation about what you feel I’m doing that sets me up for success in my current role.
Can you provide me with what you feel is the most important thing I offer?
Can you give me an example of how you see that?
What would I need to consider, moving forward, to improve my chances for a promotion? Or How do you recommend I improve as my team grows?”
Gaining this type of information from a collection of people in your organization will give you, as a leader, or an employee, a significant read on how your current talent is viewed.
Here is an example of an organizational talent topic Of how these 4 elements can be used together. The topic is to gain insights into what the organization is doing well before they decide to change.
“I’d like to step into a quick conversation about what you feel this organization is doing well to attract and retain great talent.
Can you provide me with what you feel is the most important thing we offer as an organization that helps retain the talent we have?
Can you give me an example of how you see that in your work experiences?
What would we need to consider moving forward to improve to that? Or How would you describe our organization to attract new talent today?”
Gaining this type of information from a collection of people in your organization will give you, as a leader, or an employee, a significant read on how your current organization is viewing the future of talent.
Don’t shy away Regardless if you are gaining information about perspectives that are personal and positive or organizational information – don’t be shy about gaining this type of information.
Face to face conversations (whether in person or on a virtual screen) may be the ticket to quickly creating the open and transparent feedback all employees and leadership desire to increase engagement, attract and retain the right talent (see blog next month for this), and feel more in control on what matters in your conversations and performance.