Simple conversation-starters for managers and leaders

August 12, 2008

One of the best tools a blogger has is a statistics page that provides the search terms people use to arrive at your blog. Today one of my search terms caught my eye: “simple conversations with tag questions.”

It struck me, I’ve talked about why simple conversations are worth your time, but I didn’t say how to start! Here are a few starters that will get your people talking about the things your business needs them to talk about:

  • What questions do you have for me? (I covered this one before as well, but it’s worth repeating.)
  • What do you know about ______? (whatever it is: latest corporate initiative, big new account, sales targets, etc.)
  • What’s going well for you at work these days?
  • What was frustrating for you at work this week? (Followed by the much-appreciated: Is there anything I can do to help?)
  • How do you think we could improve the way we’re doing this?
  • How would you approach this problem?
  • In a perfect world, what would you like us to do?
  • What do you think?
  • What feedback do you have for me?

Employees have questions. They have concerns. They have ideas. They want to share them, but they want to feel welcome to do so. And that’s why it’s so important for managers and leaders to create a safe, welcoming environment that encourages these exchanges.

No doubt there are many, many more questions you could ask employees to get them talking. What are some of your favorite conversation-starters?

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How to reveal your personality?

August 4, 2008
Revealing your personality is the key.

Revealing your personality is the key.

For the past three posts I’ve been talking about why you should reveal your personality when you talk with your constituents. Check out the reasons here, here and here. So now we’ve got the reasons down… we know why it makes good business sense. Let’s come up with ideas for exactly HOW to inject a little personality into your communications. To get us started:

  • Do your friends have a “typical you” story about you? Something that demonstrates how or why you are the way you are? For instance, my parents like to tell people that my first grade teacher called me a “little Hitler.” No, this is not really about facial hair… it’s more about the fact that I was a know-it-all bossy-pants who tried to run everything during playtime. (Well, and all the time really.) Sometimes I tell this story when my bossiness tries to rear its ugly head. It’s like a warning and a cry for help all in one: I’m about to get all dictatorial, but knowing I’m like that, help me reign it in, will ya? My point (I do have one): Learn how to tell that story about you well enough that you could rattle it right off, because it makes you human and shows you have enough of a sense of humor that you can poke a little fun at yourself.
  • What does your spouse (or maybe your assistant?) tease you about? Are you always losing your keys? Do you practice your backswing when you think no one’s watching? Did they catch you humming a Barry Manilow tune? Whatever it is, sharing it with people is similar to the story-sharing above. It helps people relate to you as a person and not just as “my manager” or “the CEO.”

What other ideas do you have? Managers and leaders, what are you doing to reveal your personality at work?