When was the last time you had a good conversation with a colleague or a team member? Did this conversation result in new insights? Did you learn something new? Did it up-lift you or provide valuable information?
A conversation is described as an informal exchange of information between two or more people. A conversation involves two aspects — sharing information and listening. Too often listening, I mean really listening so you hear what is actually being said to you, is lost. Communicating by email, text or notices shares information but lacks the engagement and “hearing” components of a conversation.
According to Gallop, “Great managers who have meaningful ongoing discussions with their employees also take ongoing action based on what they hear in those everyday conversations. They ask good questions, including disarmingly simple ones, and they pay close attention to the responses. They keep the wheels of engagement turning all the time, just by talking.”
In my role as a Consultant I have the opportunity of observing the interactions of many different people in the workplace. I also see and work with the impact of poor communication and the lack of meaningful conversations.
Make Eye Contact
What does eye contact have to do with conversations? You can’t connect and initiate a conversation if you don’t see and acknowledge a person. How many times have you walked down a hallway at work and not made eye contact, smiled at or acknowledged the other person?
When I am working with clients who are disillusioned with their job or their workplace, they frequently say they don’t feel valued. Many also tell me “the boss just ignores me unless I’ve done something wrong.” Others report they don’t feel heard because their boss doesn’t make eye contact, but looks at paper on their desk or their computer screen.
Eye contact during a conversation can be difficult for some people but it is vital for effective communication. People are more willing to talk to you when you make eye contact and you are more likely to hear them too.
Your challenge… When you get to work make a point of making eye contact and saying good morning to every member of your team. Make a point to acknowledge each person you pass in the hallway or who gets on the elevator… see what happens.
One way to build engagement with employees and to connect with what is happening around you is to have daily huddles. A huddle is an opportunity for you to connect with your team and to plan your day or gain insights. Huddles are short (less than 15 minutes) and to the point. They are not for problem solving or lon
g-term planning. Huddles are probably one of the most effective interactions you can have with your team.
A huddle isn’t just a “report out”. Instead, its an opportunity for every member of the team to share information, insights and to ask questions to help them move forward. You’ll build connections, improve organizational productivity, enhance the culture and keep your finger on the pulse.
I also have used huddles to connect individually with team members during the day. I’ve used these exchanges to touch base, learn more about employees and share. These meetings don’t have an agenda other than to connect but I’ve shared positive feedback, asked questions about a challenge I’m aware of or to check on progress and to offer my assistance.
Your Challenge — Connect with every team member in your team and have a conversation.
Learning without thought is labor lost. ~Confucius
One of the best opportunities a manager has to positively impact their organization’s learning and to lead change is to teach. I don’t mean in a classroom style, but through a conversation. Traditionally, when people attend a workshop or conference they become excited about new information or insights they have learned but this goes by the wayside when they return to their desk. Why? There is no mandate to integrate it into their job.
After an employee attends a conference, have a conversation to identify what their key insights were and if there is something they would like to integrate into their work? Can you help them set up a personal challenge to instill an action plan into their work? Book follow-up conversations to monitor progress.
Do you provide in-house training sessions? Coaching has helped organizations to support employees to actually implement skills they have learned into their daily work habits. Daily conversations can also help improve employee engagement on skill integration as well.
Your challenge — Establish regular conversations with each member of your team as a way to integrate learning into their daily work habits.
If you are interested in how to integrate daily conversations into your workplace to improve employee engagement, learning or productivity, contact us for more information on the options we have available to assist you.