If you're looking to get off to a fast start leading your troops heading into 2018, three crucial conversations must take place. But first, some context. 

Good listening skills in any conversation is the foundation for superb human communication. With technology, we are becoming less opportunistic in developing our listening skills, and less socially aware of their effect on business as a competitive advantage.

In their research published in the book Talk, Inc., Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind found that the most effective leaders employ the principles of "organizational conversation" -- operating your business as if it were two people having a conversation. In a Harvard Business Review article, they stated:

Leaders who take organizational conversation seriously know when to stop talking and start listening. Few behaviors enhance conversational intimacy as much as attending to what people say. True attentiveness signals respect for people of all ranks and roles, a sense of curiosity, and even a degree of humility.

3 Conversations to Have Before the Year Ends

As a leader, building up your active listening skills is crucial for solving problems, building trust, and winning the hearts and minds of people. This is what you need to bring to three crucial conversations before 2018 gets up and running.

1. A conversation about what is expected of them at work.

Clarity of expectations -- perhaps the most basic of needs for any employee to get off to a good start -- is crucial for high performance. Great leaders will start off the year by defining the right outcomes; they set goals for each individual member of the tribe, and will define both the job expectations clearly as well as what success on the job looks like. 

2. A conversation to discover whether their skills and strengths are being used to its full potential.

You may find that this employee has specific strengths that weren't being utilized in 2017, so be prepared to have this conversation in order to tap into the wide range of feelings (perhaps surprising to you) you may get to problem solve together how best to engage this individual so his or her gifts, skills, and strengths are fully being utilized at work. Perhaps two follow-up questions can be:

  • Were your talents, skills, and knowledge aligned to our biggest projects?
  • Do you feel you could contribute to future work in different ways than you were being asked to?

3. A conversation to really understand if your best people are getting enough praise.

Start off the conversation with one simple question: "Do you feel you get properly recognized for your work, contributions, or achievements?" You may hit a nerve, so exercise those active listening skills well. This is an important conversation to have because praise and recognition for accomplishments has been repeatedly linked to higher employee retention.

Published on: Dec 27, 2017
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