How Great Leaders Value Important Conversations. (Five tips for your next one-on-one)

As a leader, important conversations come with the territory. These conversations may take the form of helping a team member navigate a conflict, work through a challenge or identify pathways forward in their professional development.

Have you ever felt like an important conversation you needed to have with your oversight or leader wasn’t valued by them? How did it make you feel? If the answer was ‘not great’, that’s motivation to think more about this.

Great leaders know how to assign high ‘value’ to important conversations through simple actions. Leaders that do, not only strengthen the trust of their employees but build a culture where team are fully empowered to speak up when there’s something going on

Here are five simple ways that great leaders place high value on important conversations: 

1. They are Punctual

This says: Your time is important to me

As simple as it may sound. Arriving on time to a meeting places value on both the person and the conversation. This means that when a meeting is scheduled for 10:30am, you are seated, prepared and ready to go by 10:30am, not just walking through the door or wrapping up your last meeting.

Create margin in your calendar and avoid the temptation to fill your day with back to back meetings. Plan for the unexpected by putting time margins around your appointments. Assume that someone will try and ‘catch you for five minutes’ while you are on your way somewhere. We can be certain that our day will have interruptions, but when we have allowed margin, these interruptions won’t throw us off course.

2. They Leave Time

This says: This meeting is important to me 

Allow more time than you think you need. This will stop you from ‘clock watching’ or needing to ‘cut this short’, which only makes a person feel like you have somewhere more important to be. Create space at the end of the meeting to agree on action steps and the plan forward. Invite the team member to ask questions and seek clarity on anything that was discussed. Don’t just allow time for what you want to say, make time for everything that needs to be said. 

3. They Think Location 

This says: Your privacy is important to me

Where you meet can make or break an important conversation. If an employee is experiencing some type of conflict amongst their fellow team members, it goes without saying that taking them aside in an open plan office to discuss the conflict will impact on their ability to be open and transparent.

Create opportunity for people to be transparent. This might mean mean booking a private room in another building or meeting off site to discuss confidential matters. Thinking this through before you arrive extends the invitation for a person to share freely and openly. 

4. They Stay Focused

This says: Your content is important to me

Be careful not to hijack important conversation with your own agenda. Topics raised in the meeting may trigger other concerns and tasks that need to be addressed or accomplished. Be sure to stay on point with the purpose of the meeting. Take time to ask more questions and avoid jumping in with quick fix solutions. 

Create an agenda. Check in with the team member and work collaboratively on setting an agenda for the meeting with desired outcomes. When you both have clarity on what you would like to accomplish it will be easier to identify when the conversation is getting off track.  

5. They Eliminate Distractions

This says: You are important to me

Distraction is simply ‘divided attention’. To place value on a person and an important conversation, give that person your undivided attention. Set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ because we all know the buzzing in your pocket will get the better of you if it is just on silent. 

Manage expectations and create boundaries for those who need to reach you. Let them know you will be uncontactable for an hour and will return their call. Place a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door so people don’t interrupt. 

It’s the simple actions that show our team we care. It’s the small courtesy’s that place value on a person and a conversation. Got some more tips? Let’s continue the conversation.