Welcome to the Box of Conversations
There are three key one to one conversations that we should have with our team:
- The check in conversation
- The reward conversation
- The career conversation
And hopefully you don’t have to use this one very often, but if something is going wrong:
- The difficult conversation
So we have put together some cards to help these conversations flow a bit better. No complicated forms or training modules – just human conversation starters.
RULES OF PLAY
- Don’t think of the topics as separate meetings – use in the flow of your one to ones.
- Try not to read the cards like a script or it may seem disingenuous. Start with one or two you like and see where the conversation takes you.
- Don’t worry about having the perfect conversation – we are only human after all.
15-20 mins as often as they need
A check-in is an opportunity to catch up, show appreciation, agree or adjust priorities, discuss recent work and provide coaching. Tell your team when you’re available so they can book their own check-in.
- They are short, can happen anywhere and are informal.
- You don’t need to keep records unless you or your team member wants to.
- Listen more than you speak.
- Encourage your team to take accountability of their performance – they ask for the check-in and own the agenda.
- Everyone in your team will need a different level of support, so ask them how often they would like to meet.
- New starters in your team will probably need extra check-in’s to help them settle in.
- Ask if they want to talk about anything else e.g. their career, health & wellbeing etc.
- How are things going – how are you feeling?
- What are you working on and how can I help?
- Is there something that’s not going so well at the moment? Why do you think that is?
- How can we make better use of your strengths?
- Do we need to adjust or change any of your goals/tasks?
- Can I share where I think you are in terms of achieving your goals?
- This is what I’ve noticed that’s gone really well recently and the impact it had.
- “If there’s one thing I’d like to see you do more of/ less of it’s …”
- “What can I do differently to make work better for you?”
30 mins as often as they need
Today’s flatter structures mean it’s not always possible to move up the career ladder. But that doesn’t mean everyone needs to stay in the same place. Career development today is about making the most of your team members’ strengths, giving them the chance to learn new skills and opening doors for them.
- Match team members’ strengths to movement and opportunities in the team.
- Be honest and transparent about career opportunities.
- Champion advancement – be known for opening new doors and connecting people.
- It’s not always possible to give a pay rise every time a team member takes on additional responsibilities, so think of another way of showing your appreciation in ways that matter to them.
- A career conversation doesn’t have to be about changing roles. Why not focus on how they can get better at what they do today?
- Tell me about your aspirations – short and longer term?
- How have you grown in the last few months?
- How can we take advantage of opportunities in your current position to learn new skills?
- Let me tell you what I think are your biggest strengths and how we can utilise them.
- Let’s think about what we can do now to help you with your future aspirations?
- What makes you stay here and what would make you want to leave?
- I think a sideways move to … would be great for you right now.
- Let’s discuss some ideas about how you might get that development.
- Is there anyone I can introduce you to who could help you?
Suggested timing: Build into check-ins
Having a conversation about pay can be awkward, but it’s an important discussion to have – the more open and honest the better. If you are able take the issue of money off the table and pay well that is the ideal, but if you are restricted by budget or you already pay market rate you may need to explore other options to recognise. Why not surprise and delight great performance with spot rewards that are thoughtful e.g. time off, vouchers, development etc. and of course, let’s not forget the power of personal thanks and appreciation.
Prepare in advance by thinking through these questions:
- Can I articulate our approach to reward here and what is in my control?
- Do I know what matters most to this team member and what they most value or need at this point?
- How do they stack up against their peers?
- What would they need to do to make a valuable contribution in the future
- Let me explain our approach to reward here.
- How are you feeling about your reward package in general?
- Do you think your reward reflects your contribution, and if not why?
- This is where I see your reward package is at the moment e.g. below market rate, above market rate etc.
- The other factors that make up your reward package are … e.g. pension, life insurance, etc.
- Let me tell you what changes I’m proposing and why.
- I just wanted to say thank you for ….
- I really appreciate how good you are at ….
- Which things matter most to you in your life right now? (security, flexibility, development, etc).
- What concerns do you have about your reward?
- To achieve a higher level of reward you’d need to … (develop these skills, be prepared to move, take more responsibility etc).
A difficult conversation could be one of the hardest parts of being a leader. It’s no fun for the person on the receiving end either. Be known as a leader that nips issues in the bud.
- It’s natural to be defensive when we hear something we don’t like. Take time out to reflect.
- Do it alone. Involving others will often change the dynamic to one of confrontation.
- Avoid the feedback sandwich to soften the blow anything negative might be buried. Be kind with
your language, but be straightforward.
- Have to hand specific examples of the issue. It’s not fair for example to say “you’re always late for meetings”. Be specific about which meetings they were late for.
- Reduce the impact of threat by getting your team member to lead on their own feedback, we are normally our own best critic!
- Be honest about the ideal outcome e.g. don’t pretend you want them to improve if you’e already made up your mind that you want them to leave.
- The piece of work you agreed to deliver was due last week. How are you getting on?
- You seem unhappy to me so I wanted to have a chat and find out what’s wrong and see what we can do?
- The quality of your work is good but your office outbursts are rubbing the team up the wrong way (give examples) so tell me what’s going on and how I can help?
- You’ve had 3 lots of absence in the last month, so I wanted to have a chat. Is there anything you want to tell me or can I help in anyway?
- I’m not sure this is the right role for you because … so let’s talk about what we can do.
- How do you think work is going at the moment? … I see, so you’re struggling with this project? … I want to help so let’s talk about how we can get things back on track?
- Let’s meet up again next week to chat through your progress.