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Get Real: Take Your Developmental Conversations to the Next Level post image

For a variety of reasons, many manager/employee relationships stay formal, cordial, and don’t realize their full potential. The conversation stays focused on the work at hand, and hopefully there is some discussion of strengths and development needs, along with a plan to improve on them. There is often real reluctance to go deeper.

Why?

Choices, fear, time, professional boundaries. I’ll give you a minute to complete the list____, ____, _____, _____. Real can be scary.

And yet, some relationships seem to bust past the normal conversational fare. The query goes deeper and the outcome is amazing. Real can be vital.

I have debated this with leaders from across a variety of organizations and contexts. My leadership choice is err on the side of going deeper, unless I pick up real signals to the contrary.

5 Real Conversations Worth Having

So you want to go deeper, but you don’t want to cross any inappropriate boundaries. Where do you start? Here are a few topics that open up the door for deeper trust and broader development.

My Big Dream

Most development conversations focus on potential next steps, or the 5 year plan. What other big dreams are your employees holding in their hearts? What do they want to become? What’s on their bucket list? Is there any way to build some related work or skills into their current job? It’s motivating to be working on your big dream, even in baby steps.

What Motivates Me

Just asking is a good start. However, you can also learn a lot through observation. Paying attention can give you insights that will serve as excellent fodder for a deeper dialogue. When do you see them “skipping to work?” A starter “you seem really excited about this project what aspects make it most meaningful for you?”

What Scares Me

This one’s more tricky. And, it’s not on the short list for new relationships. However, as your relationship deepens, getting underneath fear and uncertainty can go a long way in helping someone to grow. Facing fears leads to confidence and competence.

What I Really Need from You

An important one to ask from the beginning of a new relationship. The trick is to keep asking as the relationship matures.You will likely get a more real answer as the trust increases.

What Matters To Me More Than This Job?

Really? Yup. I wouldn’t ask it just that way but what do they care deeply about their children? their church? their hobbies? their aging parents? their health? Knowing what really matters is vital. A little knowledge can go a long way in making you a more supportive leader.

These conversations evolve over time and won’t work best in one sitting, but bringing them in gently as the relationship evolves can go a long way to building trust, development and inspiring best work.

What topics have helped you get more “real” with your employees?
Filed Under:   Authenticity & Transparency
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is an experienced executive, speaker, and writer with a diverse background in sales, marketing, customer service, merger integration, training and organizational leadership. Her company, Let’s Grow Leaders, helps companies gain a competitive edge by building extraordinary front-line teams. She was recently named to the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior by Trust Across America. Karin knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflective road of the marathon runner, and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders.
 

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What People Are Saying

Steve Borek   |   12 October 2012   |   Reply

One way to make these convos easier is to have it outside of work during a round of golf for example.

Strong leaders know how to broach these areas in a natural way. For others, they avoid going deeper and personal because they’re afraid of coming off as too friendly which they feel is a weakness.

The better your relationship with the team, the more they’ll want to do for you.

letsgrowleaders   |   12 October 2012   |   Reply

Thanks so much for adding that, Steve. I totally agree… the context and timing in which these conversations are offered is key.

Xiaoteng Ma   |   24 November 2012   |   Reply

I really enjoyed reading this post. I agree that strong leaders should be able to share some of these thoughts with others. I think that having these conversations with employees gives the managers a “human” side to them that employees might not see otherwise. Thank you for sharing.

letsgrowleaders   |   25 November 2012   |   Reply

Thanks you so much for your kind comment.

Tom   |   25 November 2012   |   Reply

The trick here is to show constant and genuine concern. It doesn’t require orchestration to make this happen if you just remain sincerely interested in your people. If the concern only shows up at development interactions, you will never get inside.

letsgrowleaders   |   25 November 2012   |   Reply

Tom, you raise an excellent point here I agree completely… it’s absolutely about consistent genuine concern. Thanks for adding that.