4 Conversations Leaders & Employees Should Have At Work

Uncategorized Jul 06, 2021

Throughout my career, I've been responsible for creating development strategies for organizations. One thing that always stuck out for me is that in almost every organization, the number one development area is communication. The type of communication varies dramatically depending on level and position. However, the one fact that firmly remains is we all want to communicate effectively to convey information, deliver results, and create connections. 

Whether you're a leader or an employee, there are four conversations that you should be having on a very regular basis. 

This month my theme is Conversation's Matter, and today's blog will explore some of the conversations that we - the collective "we," both leaders and employees - should be having regularly. 

The "What Makes You Tick" Conversation 

The first conversation is the what makes you tick conversation? 

Now, most people, when they start a new role, skip this conversation because most of the onboarding focuses on sharing information, learning the work, and compliance. However, what if you like to communicate in a certain way and your boss wants or needs you to communicate with a different style? 

I think that it's always important to sit down and have a conversation. How would you like me to communicate with you? Do you want emails? Do you want reports? Do you want long reports? Do you want short reports? Do you want graphs and analysis? Do you want no analysis? 

Having a conversation about how we can work together effectively is so important. It can greatly reduce the friction that typically comes with onboarding and learning how to work with each other. You can also talk about some of the things that potentially will drive each of you, well, a little crazy. Talking about pet peeves is important because often, we have habits that, if not discussed, can create friction and frustration. Taking the time to talk them through can save so much time and keep everyone working together effectively. 

The Development Conversation 

When it comes to the development conversation, many employees tend to wait for their managers to take the first step. Development is one of the areas where I would encourage employees to be more proactive. If you are an employee, even if your manager does not verbally empower you, you are ALWAYS responsible for your development. 

How you grow, when you grow, the rate at which you grow, you are in control of your destiny. If you want to grow in a particular area and your organization cannot support you, consider investing on your own. If your manager has not bought it up, be proactive and ask to have the conversation. If the organization you work for is not receptive to that conversation, that might indicate that it's not the place for you in the long run.

Last but not least, if you are the leader, make sure to empower your employees to take responsibility for their development. They can do it on their own but are much more likely to do so if verbally empower them to take the lead, and then make the time to simply ask, how can I support your development?

The Performance Conversation 

The performance conversation can be a complicated one. In my experience, no one likes the process of performance reviews. Employees and managers generally do not want to document, sit and talk about how someone performed or did not perform. But what if we didn't think about performance that way? What if performance was an opportunity to record the successes that we had along the way? 

We make performance conversations a painful thing. When actually, all it needs is a series of ongoing conversations. Don't forget, if you're having the conversations all year long, there are no surprises. However, if you're not making time to talk about performance, you miss an opportunity and likely set the stage for an uncomfortable conversation at the end of the year. 

The "I See You" Conversation 

The "I See You" conversation is one of the most important conversations we should regularly have. 

I see you. What you do matters, the impact, and the contributions you are making are adding value to the team. 

I see you, what's happening in your life. How are you doing? How are you doing today? 

I see you. What, the best way for me to include you in the team? How are you feeling about being here? 

These are the conversations that we can have on a very regular basis. If you're the leader, these conversations should be a priority. If you're the employee, do your best to weave them into your day-to-day interactions. Sometimes the leaders that you work for are so busy, and they're so overwhelmed. They need somebody to stop and say, "Hey, I see you. How are you? You look like you're having a crazy day. Is there anything that I can do?"

When we carve out time to have regular "I see you" conversations, we cultivate inclusive organizations where people can truly thrive. 

There are many more daily conversations that we need to have in our organizations. However, I have found these four to be most impactful in my leadership journey. 

One of the primary goals of good leaders is to create organizations where people feel like they belong and experience belonging. As an individual contributor, it is our role to help create spaces of belonging as well. I believe that it is through the daily connections and conversations that we create spaces where we can all truly thrive. 


Leah Dean is a coach, speaker, author, and former HR executive who has worked with leaders across the globe to build high-performing teams, aka tribes, for over twenty years. Today, Leah works with women from all walks of life but is most passionate about helping women leaders show up with confidence and deliver exceptional business results. Leah lives in Bermuda with her husband and two children. To learn more about Leah's work and her best-selling book Assemble the Tribe, visit www.leahjmdean.com.

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