There are many ways of communicating with our peers, team, friends & family…each question we pose we hope to get the ‘right’ response. But what if we aren’t getting the full picture, an honest answer or reaching the heart of an issue…..could we do more by changing the words and phrases we use…?
Most of us acknowledge the usual ‘rules’ of constructive verbal communication –
- Pose open questions to gain more insight…a fuller picture
- Adopt positive, friendly & open body language to build rapport
- Make time to really listen to the other person
- Allow a fluid conversation with minimal interruption and no pre-judged questions or inputs
- Practise active listening to allow the other person to feel heard, understood and valued
By going that little bit deeper, making more time and building a relationship with someone, we can elicit so much more. Being conscious about our language also helps us to have a meaningful two-way conversation. Recent academic research by EY in the US (The Belonging Barometer 2018 https://www.ey.com/en_us/diversity-inclusiveness/ey-belonging-barometer-workplace-study) found that from a study of 1,000 American working adults, the action that gave all respondents the greatest sense of belonging (at work/to the organisation) was regular check-ins.
Note the phrase: check-in and not check-up. The check-in can offer:
- A way of establishing an equal two-way conversation avoiding the more formal hierarchy of a check-up
- It can often start with a simple query about your colleagues life away from work to let them know they are valued as a person not just as a ‘worker’. This is opposite to the KPI or performance type questions in a check-up
- A chance to focus on the positive and reflect in a non-judgmental learning way as opposed to being ‘held to account’ during a PDR
- A facilitated more coaching conversation where your colleague or team member has space and time to problem solve for themselves and be creative & innovative
Some examples of more open check-in questions could be:
- What was your favourite part of today/the recent project we did/yesterday’s team meeting..?
- What’s working well for you/the team at the moment..?
- What could we do differently in our team/across the organisation/in this project..(to gain a different or more positive outcome)
- When do you feel most challenged at work..?
- When do you feel most passionate at work..?
- What resources/networks/skills do you need to be successful in X project or task..?
- How can I support you..?
Perhaps you have your own ideas on check-in questions you use with your colleagues and team members – ask yourself: Are they working for me, my team and the wider organisation…? Have a think about refining and evolving your practice if required.
If you don’t use a check-in process currently, start small and simply use 2 or 3 questions similar to the above, then move onto more familiar ground with your usual PDR/performance questions. You may gain new insights which help the rest of your meeting.
If you would like support in helping you and your teams have more constructive, positive and beneficial conversations at work, get in touch for a chat to see how coaching can help.