8 Key Conversations to Have with Your Employees
Effective communication is the foundation of a good employment relationship. Regular conversations with your employees can help build trust, loyalty, and performance. Here are eight critical conversations you should consider having with your employees:
#1: This is who we are.
Start this conversation during the hiring process to help ensure a good fit and establish clear expectations. For example, if innovation is important to you, explain how your company fosters creativity (for instance, through brainstorming sessions or cross-functional teams). Additionally, help employees understand and take ownership in your mission and values. Identify high level business goals and how an employee’s work helps the business get there.
#2: This is how you fit in.
Set clear goals with each employee to clarify expectations and explain how their work will be measured. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. To help promote commitment, tie individual goals to company-wide goals and involve employees in the goal setting process.
#3: We recognize your efforts.
When employees are recognized for positive performance, they are more likely to be motivated to continue the good work. Show employees that their efforts are noticed and appreciated. A simple conversation or note praising their hard work can be just as effective as a monetary reward.
#4: What are your career goals?
If you find that you’re only discussing the day-to-day with your staff, they may not feel engaged or connected with their work. Discussing an employee’s career interests and personal strengths can help make them feel valued. Even if there aren’t a lot of opportunities to move upward, you can still help employees develop skills and knowledge that will serve them in the future. Follow-up on career development during informal check-ins and performance reviews.
#5: Let’s help you get there.
Casual conversations can sometimes reveal more about how things are going than formal performance discussions. Regular as well as impromptu checks-ins allow supervisors to find out the status of work projects, provide feedback, and build stronger working relationships with their employees.
#6: How can we help you improve?
Coaching is typically used as a development tool when there is a gap in skill and/or knowledge. Supervisors should be there to offer encouragement and support. However, if an employee fails to meet expectations, be clear about what they need to do to improve and the potential consequences for failing to do so. Document the meeting and follow-up with the employee to ensure that they are on track.
#7: It’s time for your performance review.
Many employers conduct annual performance reviews with their employees. Performance reviews provide an opportunity to formally evaluate an employee’s performance based upon previously agreed upon objectives. However, supervisors should also provide performance feedback throughout the year through coaching and informal check-ins.
#8: Can you give us feedback?
Consider eliciting feedback from your employees regularly to gain insight into their experience working for you. Additionally, if an employee gives notice that they are leaving your company, conduct an exit interview. Exit interviews can help you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses and transfer knowledge to a successor or replacement.
Conversations with employees are an important part of the employment relationship. Being proactive can help minimize problems down the road. In each conversation, be direct and give the employee time to respond and ask questions.
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