Talk Is Not Cheap

Conversation has the power to touch employees’ hearts and minds more deeply than the well-intentioned steps leaders might take on their behalf, steps they don’t have the time for anyway. Dialogue inspires reflection, illuminates possibilities and inspires consideration and commitment.

From that can spring employee-generated actions — actions that employees own, actions that will help them grow, develop and realize their personal definitions of success while supporting business results.

Any number of questions can infuse development into any conversation a leader may already be having with others.

Consider employee-focused questions designed to look backward and inward in an effort to develop a deeper understanding of self-awareness. They might include an exploration of such things as where employees have been, what they love and what they’re good at.

Examples include:

• What do others count on you for?

• What are your greatest strengths in this situation?

• What have you done in the past that applies here?

Consider also bigger picture questions that look at the broader environment and the business to determine what’s changing and what it all means. These might focus on what is going on in the organization or industry, how customers, technology and regulations are changing, and what that all means to career plans and objectives.

Questions like the following can transform routine conversations into developmental tools:

• What are you hearing from customers?

• What does that mean for the business/for you?

• What are our competitors doing?

• What can we learn from that?

Questions like these can become a natural part of conversations that are already consuming a leader’s time. They redirect the focus and ratchet up the outcomes, without introducing new activities or consuming any more time. It just takes a new awareness of these opportunities.