Making the Most of Critical Conversations

Difficult Convos

We’ve all found ourselves dreading going into the office on days we know we are going to have an uncomfortable conversation. Whether it’s asking for a raise, disciplining a subordinate, or requesting that your boss stop micromanaging you, there doesn’t seem to be a clear, easy way to have these difficult conversations. Should I start with a strong lead or work my way into the conversation? How do I make sure that all the points I want to cover are covered? How do I go about ending the conversation?

Fortunately, we’re taking the guesswork out of preparing for these conversations by offering some do’s and don’ts for having critical conversations.

Do’s

  • Have a plan but not a script. Have an outline of the points you definitely want to hit before going into the conversation. Avoid scripting, however, because often times these conversations don’t always go according to plan. By having a bulleted outline, you can ensure that you can make all of your points even if the person you are talking to goes off script. Go into the conversation with a mindset of flexibility and you’ll leave feeling accomplished.
  • Practice active listening. Even though you may be the one initiating the conversation, it is still imperative that you listen to what your counterpart is saying back to your points instead of rushing to get all your points out there. Give the conversation your undivided attention and show that you are listening by responding substantively to what your conversation partner is saying. Make sure your body language shows you are listening too by using gestures to convey your attention and avoid fiddling with your phone or things around you.
  • Reflect and learn. Regardless of if you felt the conversation went well or poorly, take some time after to debrief and reflect on what went right and wrong. Think about how you reacted to certain parts of the conversation and contemplate what you could have done differently. Once you know how you engage in critical conversations you can practice the parts you are good at and work on areas you are lacking in, making each subsequent conversation much easier to have.

Don’ts

  • Start the conversation with content. Rather than diving into the content of the conversation, start with intent and why you are having the conversation in the first place. Establish mutual purpose and respect and lay out what your intentions for the discussion are. By establishing that the conversation is taking place in a safe space before diving into the meat of the discussion allows your counterpart to open up and have a more productive conversation.
  • Forget the facts. Critical conversations are often emotionally charged and it can be easy to base the discussion in your feelings about the topic instead of the facts. Presenting the facts makes the conversation less controversial and more persuasive and also gives you an opportunity to ask the other party for their facts. After you discuss the facts about the topic at hand, you can then turn and examine your feelings on the situation and start moving towards a conclusion.
  • Let the conversation end by dwindling off. After you go through the main points of what you wanted to get through in the conversation, you may find yourself at a loss at where to end it. Instead of letting the discussion dwindle off awkwardly, recognize when a critical conversation is coming to a close and end it with clarity. This means both parties know that the conversation is over and there is a clear outline of who is doing what and when follow up conversations will take place. Having a necessary critical conversation is a good start but it will be much more worth it if the outcomes of the discussion are clear and there is a path to meet the goals set through the conversation.

Want more career development resources? The NextGen Leadership Development Program could be for you. Learn more about what you can get out of the program here.

Source: GovLoop

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7 Values Transforming Today’s Workplace

people-woman-coffee-meeting-large - from pexels.com - workplace

From Dannielle Blumenthal, Government Executive:

Empowerment versus authority: The individual and the small team make decisions rather than having decisions dictated to them from on high.

Disclosure versus concealment: Telling what’s going on, the earlier the better, leads to forgiveness whereas hiding the truth is unforgivable. The cover-up is worse than the crime.

Frailty versus bluster: People are respected for admitting their faults, and projects are similarly honored as bold attempts even if they do not fully succeed. Those who brag, but have little or nothing to show for it, are quickly outed and mocked.

Insight versus information: The numbers themselves no longer tell the story. People who understand the numbers and can offer useful insight based on studying them in context are prized.

Truth versus loyalty: The public today simply wants to know the truth. Whereas in the past, keeping secrets out of loyalty to the organization was a mark of pride (you would “throw somebody under the bus” so that they could “take one for the team”). Today, this would be considered disgusting.

Advancing a cause versus promoting yourself: In the recent past, it was fashionable to use work as a platform for Brand Me. Today, employees and customers alike expect organizations to be giving something back. Meaning is a primary value; selfishness is not.

Sharing versus hoarding: The notion of a sharing economy extends to workplace spaces, assignments, and distribution of wealth associated with project success. Put simply, people expect to co-work and receive a share of the profits, and they enjoy being part of this kibbutz-like collaborative effort. On the other hand, holding all the money back for oneself, or all the credit, or all the power, is loathsome, and people will take great pains to distance themselves from such a person.

To read the full article, visit: http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2016/08/7-values-transforming-todays-workplace/130766/?oref=eig-homepage-module

 

3 Steps to Inspire Your Team Without Paying Them (Or Without Paying Them More)

Inspire Team ArticleFrom https://www.govloop.com:

As a leader of more than a dozen volunteer organizations and a founder of three not-for-profit organizations, I have extensive experience in trying to motivate people who are extremely talented but aren’t financially reimbursed for their time. In addition, as a supervisor in government work, I know the challenges of inspiring employees who are older and more experienced, or younger and may not feel that they have the skills or abilities to tackle a new responsibility.

This year, I’ve written about reward programs to incentivize the performance you want repeated, and I’ve covered using authentic compliments to build closer relationships with your team. But what about when you simply need to get a job done today? You don’t have time to create an employee recognition program or build that relationship with an employee whose nose you need on the metaphorical grindstone. The job needs to be done now and you may have to work with limited resources who are constrained by other work obligations. How can you do it?

First: Perform A “Sanity Check”

Before you step out of your office, perform a quick “sanity check” on the plan you want to put into action. I always recommend using S.M.A.R.T. goals, which helps to ensure that you’re giving someone a task they can accomplish. S.M.A.R.T. is a classic business acronym which stands for:

– Specific: The goal must be detailed and focused, not vague or too broad.
– Measurable: The goal must have targets that can identify under performance and over performance.
– Attainable/Achievable: The goal must be able to be accomplished with the time, budget and resources available.
– Relevant (Some use Realistic): The goal must meet the mission of the organization.
– Timely: The goal must have a deadline for completion.

When you perform this quick analysis, you can be confident that you have created a goal worth pursuing, and that will help you in the next phase.

Next, Get “I’ve Had Way Too Much Coffee!” Enthusiastic

Remember, at this point, your goal is exactly that; yours. You need to build enthusiasm and support for this solo mission to become a team effort, and this starts from within. Make sure you are aware and confident of the importance of this project to the agency, and that will be conveyed when you begin promoting it to your team. After all, how many times have you had to watch your manager try to push senior leadership’s “mission statement” on you? You can tell if they believe in it or if they’re just toeing the company line because they have to. You must be convinced that this is a mission-critical task that will make or break the organization. Make sure you communicate this with all of the answers you developed in making your goal S.M.A.R.T., so the team member knows exactly what is expected and when it is due.

Finally, Follow-up With Your Full Support

Don’t forget, you are delegating this task because the resource has the talent you need to successfully meet the objective. Ensure they have the resources and time commitment (especially if this is a multiple department or inter-agency project) to be successful. Check in with them at a frequency they designate, and do so in-person (do not send an email), to see how they are progressing. Ask how other teams are cooperating, or if they need additional support to accomplish the task. Most importantly ask; “are you still as excited about this task as I am?” And follow up with authentic compliments to help recognize the individual’s work and build professional rapport as the project progresses.

This Technique May Work Better Than You Expect

Recently, I needed a member of another team (who is brilliant, and is constantly tasked with more than his fair share of work) to help me out by developing an API (computer code that let’s one system talk to another) that was very important for my team’s success. It involved partnering with a third department in our agency to create a real-time link with our phone systems to ensure my disaster recovery alerting system always had the latest contact information to reach employees. After checking with another department supervisor to make sure my goal was S.M.A.R.T., I approached the employee with the task and explained how amazing it would be for our organization to have this information available at the touch of a fingertip. Before I could even complete my sales pitch, he was already telling me how excited he was to work on this project, and how the information could be used in other areas of government business. I’ve pledged him my full support and I will be checking in with him on a weekly basis (his requested follow-up period) to find out how I can help clear the way for this project.

How can you apply this method at your agency?

Daniel Hanttula is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Service Never Ends: 21st Century Women Bridging the Gap

In honor of Public Service Recognition Week, join us on May 4th, 2016 from 5:30 – 8:30pm for the 1st Annual Service Never Ends: 21st-Century Women Bridging the Gap event. Come hear our speakers and panelists share compelling stories of their service as #ChangeAgents in the local, national and international stage through their continued service in the Armed Forces, public and private sectors.
All speakers, panelists and moderators are women; however, the focus is on their service, actions and activities, and what they did as #ChangeAgents, not gender roles per se. The aim is to highlight their service as positive #ChangeAgents and the impact this has on the National Service discussion.

Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/service-never-ends-21st-century-women-bridging-the-gap-tickets-21982146191?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=estw&utm-source=tw&utm-term=listing.