Critical Conversations Made Simple

Do you have logol_screenany past due conversations? You know, those conversations you keep putting off for one reason or another. Perhaps you know that productivity is lagging and you’re ‘just to busy’ to deal with it. Or it’s that chronic tardy situation that’s causing coworkers to begrudgingly cover for another person. And it could be that negative-Nancy who is allowed to cause drama and bring a dark cloud into the workplace. The list of possibilities could go on-and-on as to what you’re putting off. Too often this causes unnecessary stress, lagging results and financial drain.

The truth is that everyone on your team knows what conversations need to happen. This isn’t secret stuff. Your team members are smart. As their leader, they are looking to you to have these conversations so that the workplace is supportive and enjoyable. People want to be on fun and productive teams.

Simple Solution

Some good news. For whatever essential conversations you’ve been putting off there is a simple solution. By learning to master critical conversations everything gets better.  This one skill will enable you to solve those pressing problems, strengthen your team and help you feel better, too.

No doubt at this moment it appears not so simple or you would have already had them. Yet, there is a step-by-step process that really does make it very doable.  It’s actually more of a pathway model. Because really, what conversations actually go in a straight line?

Preparation is Key

A major key to setting yourself up for critical conversation success is preparation. Mental preparation in advance. This means thinking through how you want the conversation to go and having clarity of your desired outcome. Then mentally rehearsing your best case scenario. Additionally, developing your focus/refocus skill will help with critical as well as daily conversations.  This happens by not allowing conversations to head down ‘rabbit holes’.  It’s a time saving, frustration alleviating and highly productive ability.

Simple Process

Before entering into a critical conversation you will want to be able to clearly describe the issue and it’s impact. The more quantitative you can be the better. It’s tough to argue with specific facts that are observable and not subjective.

It’ll be essential to get your employee’s view and agreement that a problem exists. If you do not get agreement that there is a problem…they will not change their behavior. Period. And you will need to have this conversation again and again.  Perhaps this has already been the case? They must agree or you are wasting your time and energy.

Take time to explore causes of the situation. And then solutions (behavior changes) that your employee is willing to take. This is where their action plan is created. If you’ve been putting this conversation off for too long you also might need to discuss pending consequences if the situation doesn’t change.

Don’t think the problem is magically solved after only one conversation. It’s not that simple. Especially if it’s been going on for too long. Set a follow-up date within the week. Then follow-up with acknowledgement of progress in-between. You know that where attention goes, energy flows and results show.

There are many benefits to handling these conversations.  Your employee will gain clarity of what’s acceptable and what’s not.  Your other team mates will be grateful that the issue is finally being addressed. Engagement and performance will go up. The energy in your office will lighten up. And you’ll breath easier once this is out on the table and resolved. You can perfect this skill. Your leadership will be more effective almost immediately!

Curious to learn more? Join us at the IAA Conference on October 25-26.  This is a must attend session to alleviate stress and elevate yourself and your team.

Written by Terri Norvell

Terri Norvell engages people to break through their barriers as a high-energy presenter, workshop facilitator, performance coach, and author. Her 25 years of executive leadership includes VP of Training, Marketing & Business Development with a $1.2 billion dollar property management and development company and GM of a $9 million dollar temporary housing firm. You can reach Terri at 303-475-5456, or