The Hidden(and not so hidden) Impact Of A Question

A recent WSJ article highlighted the impact on the brain of being able to talk about ourselves.  Talking about ourselves (which we spend 40% of our conversations doing) triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.  It is a great article – here is the link.

Talent management is about having great conversations.  Sure the processes (interview/selection, onboarding, performance, succession planning, one on ones, etc) are important, but the impact of being present in that time and having both parties open to sharing, questioning, and listening makes the biggest impact.  I like this article because it provides some science behind what we know – it is healthy for us if someone is there to listen.

So what to do with this?  Here are two ways to enable more listening as a leader and one as a follower:

For the leader:

  1. Make the one on one the responsibility of the your team member.  Their agenda (with imput from you) to cover what they need to and what they want to.  (Here is a link to a template and calendar for this)  There should be a time limit – but let them talk, and you listen.
  2. Make a habit to get groups of employees together monthly to celebrate something (birthdays, employment anniversaries, etc.) and listen.

For the Follower:

  1. When your leader comes around or asks “Are their any questions?”, be ready to ask.  Here are two to keep around:  What is one thing that has been keeping you up at night lately?  What have you learned lately?

In the book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam he makes the case that if someone is a smoker and a loner it will have a greater impact on their life expectancy if they kept smoking and found some friends.  It is healthy to be listened to, and we need to remember to return the favor.