Note: In this episode, conversations refer to the discussions between managers and their employees on performance development. Conversations (capital “C”) refers to our new performance development module that enables the documenting, managing, and tracking of these conversations. For more information on Conversations, click here.
We love goals. We also love frequent and authentic conversations between managers and their employees. In today’s episode, I discuss how we here at BetterWorks use conversations to engage and enable our employees to achieve their full potential.
Conversations must be frequent and authentic; annual conversations don’t promote authentic dialog. At BetterWorks, we do quarterly conversations. They also need to be two-way or balanced, meaning the manager and the employee have equal voice to engage in meaningful dialog on what they both need to be successful. And finally, conversations need to be data-driven, using signals like goal progress to inform a productive and authentic conversation.
Feedback vs Coaching
I want to take a moment to distinguish between feedback and coaching. Feedback is about looking back. “I didn’t like how you conducted that meeting” or “You were great on project X that happened 6 months ago.” Coaching is about looking forward. “In the next 6 months, here’s what I need from you in order to be successful.” At BetterWorks, we encourage managers to have that forward-looking view when having these conversations. Conversations are not about making people feel criticized or looking in the past but about both parties sharing a mutual vision of what success looks like for the future.
We have a whitepaper on 5 conversation types that you can find (with example questions) here. I encourage you to download and take a look. For today, I’ll focus on 1 conversation type that we do at BetterWorks - Start, Stop, Continue.
How BetterWorks does Conversations
Everyone at BetterWorks does a two-way Start, Stop, Continue conversation once a quarter. Every 6 months we add a career growth conversation to the Start, Stop, Continue.
At BetterWorks we only have 3 questions for each person to answer - 6 questions total. We like to keep things simple in order to keep the conversations lightweight and frequent; adding more questions will take more time and become a burden to people. Our conversations happen in 30 minutes and cover the following questions:
- What am I getting from you that I like and find helpful and on target for your role? (Continue)
- Things that you are doing that I think are impeding your effectiveness in your role? (Stop)
- Things that I am not getting/seeing that I would like you to focus on to increase your effectiveness in your role? (Start)
Both people answer a variation of the questions above and have equal voice to add to the conversation.
The key to is to keep conversations lightweight, frequent, and authentic. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear how your company does conversations and what you think about our new Conversations module!
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