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1 December, 2016

How to hold Development Conversations in the Right Way

Last time we went through how Development Conversations help you support, guide and develop your direct reports, and how they can get your direct reports to put 22% more effort into their job, and feel 43% more committed to your organisation.

So how do you hold development conversations in the right way? This is what we’ll cover today, so let’s get started!

Any Development Conversation will be driven by the other person – not by you as a manager. However, you bring 2 things to the table:

  1. A process to help the other person work through their issue, and come to a solution.
  2. A different perspective.

When you’re holding a Development Conversation, there are 4 steps you need to take:

  1. Help your direct report get clear on the outcome they want from the discussion. This must be a positive action which is in their control. There is no point having them say “I want someone to else to do this”, or “I don’t want someone else to do that” – as they can’t control what other people do or don’t do. What they can control is what they do.
  2. Once you help your direct report get clear on the desired outcome and the time-frame in which it will be achieved, it’s normal to have the tendency to jump straight into solutions. But this isn’t useful. The second step in the process is to help your direct report get clear on what is happening right now, or the current reality. The sorts of open-ended questions to ask around this are “what is the situation right now?”, “what should be happening that isn’t?”, and “what is currently working for you?” You may have a different perspective on the current situation, which you can then add to the discussion. At the end of this, you’ll have a clear idea about what is currently happening.
  3. The next step is to develop a list of options of how the person might approach the situation – rather than jump to 1 solution. Ask open-ended questions like “how have you seen other people approach this sort of situation in the past?” and “if all the constraints were removed, what would you do?” Once you’ve got a list of options to take, ask open-ended questions like “what are your top 3 options, and what are the pros and cons of each?” You’re not proposing solutions, you’re exploring the options, and then getting the person to evaluate each.
  4. The last step is to finalise the option the person is going to take and plan the next steps. Ask questions like “which option will you go with?”, “what are the benefits of going with this option?”, and “when are you going to start?”

So that’s how to hold a Development Conversation. You’re going to bring in your perspective, particularly around what the current situation is, your view about some of the options, and the pros and cons of these. However, the main thing you bring is a process to help people work through the issue, and help them come up with their own solution.

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