Never underestimate the power and importance of having conversations. But to achieve win-win-win outcomes as a leader, learn how to make them productive.
The challenge is most people have a poor relationship with talking it out. They have not learned how to ensure team members feel valued and heard before decisions are made.
Have you ever had one of these experiences (or been the person who refused to listen)?
- One strong woman believed she knew best. So instead of talking out differences of opinion she would bulldoze the situations. She would then add fuel to the fire by alienating the person(s) for not agreeing with her.
- One man believed his ideas were the best ones. After all, he’d spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking through the issue. He wasn’t open to hearing anyone’s input. Needless to say, when he didn’t get his intended results, he blamed his team for poor execution.
- One team was not open to changing how they worked together since they’d been successful in the past. As a result, when the customer was unhappy with the product, they refused to listen. The client sued for breach of contract and won!
What’s the difference between productive and non-productive conversations?
- Non-productive conversations focus on gossip, ongoing conflicts, and the news. These types of conversations waste time and leave you feeling un-energized or drained.
- Productive conversations focus on resolving current issues. They address brainstorming, creating potential solutions, and developing new actions for results.
6 Steps to Transform Your Unproductive Conversations
- Develop Basic Meeting Tactics. Have an agenda, create minutes, and set up a communication portal with easy access for all team members. Stay focused during the meeting. Encourage all team members to share (you may need to limit their time to 2 or 3 minutes). If you need basic meeting tactics, hire an executive coach to develop facilitation skills, instead of relying on trial-and-error.
- Have 1:1 Meetings. Use 1:1 or smaller team meetings to handle specific problems. Share with the team the results of these meetings, where appropriate. Relationship issues should be confidential.
- Stop Mind-Reading. No one is a mind-reader. Share your expectations out loud and clearly. Be a parrot by repeating the vision and the goal(s) at the beginning of each meeting.
- Handle Conflicts. If your team meetings include sniping, gossip, and other unproductive comments, STOP. These types of meetings cost time, money, and hurt feelings. Become fearless. Work with your coach to resolve team conflicts and develop this all-important muscle.
- Embrace Tough Conversations. Yes, I said embrace! It starts by addressing the “elephant in the room.” Use the straight-talk approach and start the conversation with the facts. Allow each person to share his/her thoughts and brainstorm as a team to resolve it. As the team leader, share your concerns last. This encourages everyone to share and truly listen.
- Engage in Strategic Conversations. Using the same strategy does not develop productive conversations for win-win-win outcomes. Be candid about the strengths and weaknesses of ideas and facts after brainstorming is done. Align on a plan instead of relying on a consensus since it removes silos and encourages teams to embrace change.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2019 – 2021
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She has been an award-winning executive coach, management consultant, and keynote speaker for 28 years. She is an expert in guiding leaders and their teams to get unstuck and achieve dynamic results. Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
A Note About Having Productive Conversations from Jeannette. It’s not business as usual (I know I keep repeating this phrase week after week). My intention is to emphasize that the new normal needs to be created. This occurs when you have productive conversations and allow for innovation. If you are unclear how to get started, pick up the phone or email me for ideas!