Development Tips: Communication that Creates Momentum

This week I will be publishing a review of the book Great on the Job by Jodi Glickman.  One request I get often is for ideas for helping develop the skills/capabilities of people.  This book provides an opportunity for some great conversations around communication and initiative.

Here are 4 ways Great on the Job could be used as a development tool for people on your team.  Each is a 30-60 minute conversation, that could go longer depending on how much actual skill practice you do.  Always ask for a commitment to use it on the job and plan a time to debrief/share at the next team meeting.

1. Calling people they do not know: Sounds simple, but in the world of texting you will be hiring people that are used to providing sound-bits and not professional introductions.  This book has a great chapter that will help people get to the point on a phone call with a busy client/customer.  It is very applicable advice for friends doing a job or to build communication skills/professionalism of your team. Here is a sample outline of what learning time is with an individual/team:

  • Provide them with a scenario that requires them to call someone they do not know with a request.
  • Give them 5 minutes to craft a 30 second message they would leave.
  • Ask them to share their message.  Do very little editing/correction.
  • Follow-up questions.  What was the biggest challenge of this assignment?  Who gave the most effective message in your opinion?  Why was it so effective? (write answers on the board for comparing to GOTJ content later.
  • Review Chapter 1 with them in the book.
  • Give them 3 minutes to rewrite their introduction.
  • Go around the room sharing revised introductions.
  • Go around the room and ask for each person to make a commitment on how they will use it in the next week.  Some examples – “I commit to posting this on my phone and tracking how many times I use it this week . . ”  “I commit to meeting with ____ for 30 minutes and practicing it.”
  • Spend 10 minutes at next staff meeting reviewing commitments and learnings.

2.  Interacting with Executives/Leaders: The #1 question asked at work to start conversations is –  How is it going? It is a crappy question, but it happens and it does provide an opportunity for people to give a BRIEF update on one thing they are focused on.  Here is an example of how this could be used with a group of high potentials or new hires:

  • Put people in groups of 3 and give them a scenario that you run into the CFO in the elevator and he/she asks “How is it going?”  Craft a great answer.  Craft a terrible answer.
  • Go around the room asking for both to be shared.  (this should generate laughter . . . )
  • Debrief:   What is the difference between a great answer and a poor answer?  Which was easier?  (write answers on a white board)
  • Review the GOTJ chapter for Status Update and Outstanding Answer.  Give half the groups the class of doing a Status Update answer and half to do an Outstanding Answer update.
  • Go around and ask for both to be shared.
  • Assignment:  Ask groups of 3 to be learning partners and test each other randomly, either face to face or during the work day until the individual provides a solid response.  (ie:  When your learning partner asks How is it going? – answer them as if they were the CFO.
  • Set 30 minutes to get back together in a week to review commitments and debrief the practice.

3.  What to say when you are asked something that you do not know: Job scopes generally change before people get hired, and after they start there will be continuous creep into areas where they are not experts.  The formula presented in the book is simple:  Here is what I know / Here is what I do not know / Here’s how I’ll figure it out.  Here is how this would fit into an onboarding session for new employees:

  • Day 1 with new employee, share your support for them and acknowledge that you will be asking them questions they do not know the answers to.
  • Share the GOTJ methodology.
  • Ask them a question they do not know the answer to – and have them use the GOTJ method to answer it.
  • Commit, as their leader, to help them by being willing to pause a conversation where they are rambling and asking each one of these questions to lead them through an answer.

4.  Asking for feedback: Leave the “millennials need more feedback” excuse behind.  Everyone needs to know how they are doing, and yet asking for that feedback is tricky.  GOTJ offers some great advice for how to ask in such a way that it is easy for people to give you feedback.  Here is how a work team could use this:

  • Ask everyone to read Chapter 6: Ask for Feedback.  Set the expectation that you will spend 30 minutes on the topic at the next meeting.
  • Facilitate a discussion around feedback: How do you feel about getting feedback?  How do you like to receive feedback?  Share a time when you received some great feedback/poor feedback?
  • Focus on how it works today:  What are ways you receive feedback today?  What are two parts of your job that would be easy/beneficial for others to give you feedback?
  • Using the Chapter 6 material in GOTJ, what is one commitment you make for gather feedback this week?  (What feedback will you ask for? How will you ask for it (script). Which teammate will help you? When will it be done?)
  • Practice your response when people give you great feedback – Thank you. 🙂
  • Go around the room and ask everyone to share their commitment for the week on using this material.
  • Set 10 minutes at the next staff meeting to revisit commitments and talk about next steps.

90% of development/learning happens outside of the classroom.  Any of these activities is 30-60 minutes of focused time spent on skills that can help people of any age/experience levels.  If people are just afraid or nervous to speak, one year in a Toastmasters group is still the best option, but as a leader this book can be used to empower and refine the skills of your team.  The result, they will become better at communicating to each other and you – which will make your life as a leader easier.

Talent management is about great conversations.  Go have one.