A Conversation Worth Having

If you’re leading and managing others, one of the most powerful things you can do is to have Quarterly Coaching Conversations with your direct reports.

Since employees are key to achieving your company’s vision and potentially your only true competitive advantage, these conversations are one of the best ways to build trust and enhance your working relationships.  Here’s how to plan for having these crucial conversations:

Once you’ve determined your company’s Core Values and completed your Vision/Traction Organizer (VTO), then it’s time to prepare a Core Values Speech given by you at an upcoming all employee meeting. That’s a perfect time to talk about Quarterly Coaching Conversations – what they are, why they’re important and when they will begin.

A Quarterly Coaching Conversation is an informal one-on-one offsite meeting with your direct report, with the following objectives:

  • Celebrate success
  • Perpetuate your Core Values and Core Focus
  • Coach on areas of opportunity for growth
  • Listen and learn how you can support your direct report

The following guidelines will help you have better Quarterly Coaching Conversations:

  1. Keep it casual, it’s not a formal review.
  2. Hold the conversation offsite, ideally have a 1-hour conversation on what’s working and what’s not. A good lead into the conversation is: “Today we’re going to have a conversation about what has gone well over the last quarter and we’re going to talk about what’s getting in the way – so we can get on the same page and work better together to accomplish our goals.”
  3. Keep in mind the 20/80 Rule of talking 20% of the time and listening 80% of the time. Create time to listen. Don’t rush in and talk too much.  We’re most helpful by holding back, asking questions, and not rescuing or jumping in to fix things.  In fact, that encourages just the opposite: A belief that “I don’t have to think because someone will tell me what to do.”
  4. Use open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” By asking open-ended questions, your direct reports will develop a growth mindset.  They will begin to trust their ability to identify a problem and find their own solution, as opposed to telling them what to do.
  5. Use the People Analyzer to provide feedback on Core Values alignment and how they are performing in their specific seat (GWC) when compared with the “bar” or standard you’ve set.
  6. Ask how your direct report’s Rocks are going (on track or off track) and comment on their quarterly Rock completion rate over previous quarters. 80% or better is the goal!
  7. If they are doing well, tell them – they need to hear it. The general rule is to use a 4 to 1 ratio of positive to negative.
  8. If there are concerns, ask open-ended questions to help them find their own solutions, such as:
  • What was getting in the way this quarter?
  • What could you differently?
  • What areas of improvement could you commit to?

Record their commitments and review them at the next Quarterly Coaching Conversation.

  1. Get feedback on how you can improve as a leader and manager. Ask questions like:
  • “How am I doing on giving clear direction and setting clear expectations?”
  • “What additional tools and support could I provide?”
  • “What are your expectations of me? How can better support your success?”

If you’re falling short, commit to making the necessary changes, record your commitments and review how you’ve done at the next Quarterly Coaching Conversation.

  1. At the end of your conversation, make sure to put the next Quarterly Coaching Conversation in your calendar.  Remember, if you change the date, then your direct report may feel like they’re not a priority.
  2. Keep a copy of your Quarterly Coaching Conversation form  so that by review time, you have a history on your conversations and your direct report’s commitments for improvement. By the end of the year, you’ll have 3 conversations to reference when creating your direct report’s Annual Review.

Your commitment to prioritizing Quarterly Coaching Conversations and improving as a manager will provide a great example for others who are developing those skills!  Now that’s a conversation worth having!!


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