In this video, learn the best practices for creative, open-ended conversation that moves people quickly to clarity.
- Whether you have casual conversations or more structured career conversations, here are some dos and don'ts, and even if you're not a people manager, these work great for peer mentoring and coaching as well. Some dos, best practices for conducting these meetings. Do more listening than talking. Save your own experience and advice for the end of the conversation, when you'll have a better sense of what would be most helpful to share. Ask open-ended questions. Instead of asking why, which can sometimes make people feel defensive, ask follow-up questions such as, what's important to you about that, what else, and tell me more.
These will help both of you get to the root of what matters most to each person. Focus most on the Plant stage. Explore what values are most important to the person you're talking to, what their talents and interests are, and what success looks like one year from now, while also adding your observations about their key strengths and accomplishments. Remain exploratory during the conversation. The more you help uncover what's working and what's exciting without skipping ahead too early to problem solving or next steps, the more insight you'll both have to scan effectively for potential solutions and pilots later.
Scan by asking about a range of interesting opportunities as a next move. Go first for quantity with expanse of brainstorming before narrowing down for quality. From that list, ask them what one or two pilots would be most promising to pursue, before you weigh in with your suggestions. And a bonus, conduct these sessions as walk and talks. Fresh air and movement will revitalize both of you, fostering a better connection and more engaging conversation. Now some don'ts, common missteps. One, don't take notes, it breaks eye contact and takes away from deeper, more active listening.
You can both jot down memorable insights and next steps after the meeting. Don't hold these pivot conversations at the same time as performance reviews. Again, employees are likely to be nervous and are often overwhelmed by processing information from your assessment of their work. Try not to combine them with your usual one on one meetings either, if possible, that way neither of you will be distracted by looming action items. Don't worry about trying to solve an employee's one year vision in this conversation either, just get clear on what it is. That's way more helpful than you might think.
Regular one on ones can then be a time to follow up with planning more specific pilots and next steps later down the road. Your turn, reflect on your past career conversations. What worked, what didn't, what new techniques are you going to introduce in your next career conversation? Who has been your most helpful career mentor to date and what made that relationship so powerful? What made those conversations stick? Download the exercise file to further jumpstart your career conversations with a set of powerful pivot questions and a career conversation starter kit.
- Optimizing your current role
- Identifying your strengths
- Crafting a one-year vision of success
- Making connections to "friendtors" and one-off mentors
- Creating a skill-building game plan
- Identifying small experiments and stretch projects
- Embracing smart risks
- Mapping next moves to make a greater impact