4 Ways to Make Your Development Conversations More Powerful

If you are a people manager or in another leadership role, development conversations should be a large part of what you do. My experience is that people think they are having development conversations all the time with their team, but 60% of employees say they have not received any useful feedback in the past six months*. This difference of perception between the giver and the receiver of the feedback gives us clues on how to fix our development conversations. Here are 4 of my top tips if you want to make development conversations more powerful:

1. Have them more, not just according to your performance review schedule. Development conversations are, wait for it, a conversation…not an event. That means talking, and it means ongoing not discrete entities. It is an attitude not a meeting. A performance review is a measure of the effectiveness of your conversations over the year, not a space to provide opportunities for growth (or worse, feedback that has not been heard before which leads to little/no/negative growth).

2. Take more responsibility for their change. There might be a misconception between what we think we give and what the other person hears. It is well documented that we think we are better at having development conversations than we are. A common attempted solution to this problem is to see if they can repeat your feedback back to you. If they can, it is presumed the message has been received. BUT, listening is not the same as hearing. Big difference. The ONLY way you will determine if your development conversations have been powerful is by checking the behaviour you were trying to influence. Has their behaviour changed? No? Your responsibility to pick the conversation up again and try a different manner, a different message, a different mode.

3. Work on your trust levels. If someone doesn’t trust you, the chances are you won’t be able to have an authentic conversation about their development. The conversation that is louder than the one you are having face to face, will be the one you are each having in your own heads. If you want to move the conversation to a more real and honest place, use the trust you have. If you are lacking in trust, work on that first. Don’t know how? See here.

4. Make sure you focus on trackable behaviours (ideally determined by them) and then hold them accountable (again ideally in a way determined by them). Your role is to help them shift, not just to deliver a message. Make it easy for them to feel that they are tracking well.

5. A bonus one…Speak to me about my Powerful Development Conversations workshops – they are pretty good! ;) – see here for some recent testimonials.

*Cornerstone on Demand, Employee Report, November 2012.

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work. Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.