5 Workplace Conversations You Need to Drive Performance

Fierce, Inc, is an organization that helps individuals and organizations transform conversations in ways that promote productivity and accountability that lead to better outcomes. The following message represents their major core value: “Our careers, our organizations, our relationships and our very lives succeed or fail gradually then suddenly one conversation at a time.”

Imagine the amount of creativity, innovation, efficiency and growth we feds are leaving on the table for not having courageous conversations. Many times those conversations involve people we care about, don’t care about or need to care about.

Beth Wagner of Fierce, Inc. has some ideas on how we can get better at having difficult conversations with our colleagues particularly those that center on performance.

Confront Behavior
Many federal workplaces have reaped the results of tolerating negative workface behavior that was never nipped in the bud. These messages were either never given or provided so badly that the bad behavior was reinforced. Some of them were created with a mindset that said the feedback giver was right and feedback receiver was wrong.

Wagner recommends confronting the issue that is driving the behavior you want to change as opposed to confronting the person doing the behavior.

Coach to Performance
Wagner claims that just providing advice to people reminds them of their suffocating childhoods. True coaching lights the fire from within. Good coaches listen and avoid trying to fix people.

Delegate Effectively
Wagner notes that most delegation follows the delegate everything or delegate nothing approach. She suggests delegation conversations have to answer the question for the delegator, “What do I need to see from this person to make me comfortable at a distance.” Then the person with the delegated tasks needs to answer the question, “What do you need from me to feel comfortable with me taking this responsibility?”

Be Accountable
Wagner recommends everyone ask themselves the values question. “Is there a gap between who I am as a person and who my organization is as an organization?” Am I one kind of person inside the joint and another kind person outside the establishment?

Millennials understand this better than anybody as they search for workplaces that validate both their personal and professional selves.

Give Positive Feedback
David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute reminds us that positive feedback is a signal to the brain to do more of something. Wagner reinforces this notion that the recognition of successful behaviors in the workplace is a green light to repeat them.

Confront the problem of “nice” and avoiding difficult conversations in the workplace. It may be the most important conversation you have in your career.

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