A Simple Framework For Better Chats With Your Team


Where do you think you have more impact as a leader or manager? Is it in the formal, planned interactions like team meetings or performance reviews? Or is it in the casual conversation that started with a question like, "Have you got a minute?"

My experience with coaching leaders and managers is that the breakthroughs or mistakes made with team members are often in those incidental conversations. We are less mindful of our words, and sometimes say things that aren't helpful to growing the person in front of us.

To help minimize the chances you say something you regret later, or to enhance the ability each team member to deliver their best work, try using the "RSS" acronym to better choose your words:

Be Relational
In our rush to get so much done, I think we look at too many conversations as transactional when they need to start with a focus on the relational. What's an interest they have you can inquire about? Talk about something you saw that reminded you of them, or mention something related to a common interest you have with them. Let them know you see them as a person, not simply as a cog in the system.

Think Strategic
If the conversation is work-related, give them space to share their thoughts or even "appropriately" vent. But don't leave it there. Brainstorm with them about possible solutions using leading phrases like, "How might we...?" or "From your perspective, what might be a possible solution?" Use the moment as a way to sharpen their problem-solving skills.

Be Supportive
Never miss a chance to let a team member know you are ready and available to help with moving forward on something. Be specific about how you can assist them instead of a vague platitude like, "If you need help, let me know." Compliment them on exploring a potential solution and encourage them to seek you out when they have more information. Better yet, schedule a time to have a more formal discussion to really let them know you want to support their efforts.

With face-to-face or even voice-to-voice conversations becoming more rare each day, it's imperative that leaders make the most constructive use of the moments when they have the full attention of those in their presence.

How will you improve the next "chat" you have with a member of your team?

For more related to this topic:
3 Volatile Words Leaders Need To Use More Carefully
The Lack Of Specificity In Your Communication