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25 November, 2016

What are Development Conversations, and Why are They Important

A Development Conversation is a type of Coaching Conversation. They can be used informally to support and guide your direct reports, or they can be used in a more formal setting to develop others. Because they’re a type of Coaching Conversation, they use coaching principles.

One coaching principle is that people, as a general rule, mostly have the answers to the problems they’re facing. This means we can support, guide and develop them by asking them a series of questions so they talk through how they can solve their problem. The power of Development Conversations lies in providing a structured approach to help people think through the solutions to their own problems.

Of course, your direct reports won’t have all the solutions to their problems – you’re going to be able to offer some value as well – but since they know the situation they’re in better than you, they’re more likely to have the solutions they need.

A typical Development Conversation has 4 steps. By way of example, the GROW Conversation – a type of Development Conversation – consists of:

  • Goal: Identify the goal.
  • Reality: Establish the current reality.
  • Options: Identify the various options that could be applied.
  • Way forward: This is an action-planning step around identifying the way forward.

Why are Development Conversations important? If we think about this at a formal level, helping our employees to find solutions to the day-to-day work challenges they face enables them to put 22% more effort into their job, and to feel 43% more committed to their business (according to the Corporate Leadership Council).

So informal Development Conversations are very important, but what about formal Development Conversations?

Our Leadership Analytics tool – BravaTrak® – has helped us identify that across clients, development is the weakest leadership competency. We’ve also identified that it is the leadership competency which is the the second greatest driver of employee engagement. This means holding Development Conversations is critical, as is holding them in the right way.

Next time, we’re going to go into a bit more detail about how to hold Development Conversations in the right way. We’ll look at the steps in the process, and the sorts of questions you might ask.


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