Monthly Archives: March 2012

When the Conversation is Not over…

16 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

Hey!  Has anyone ever wrapped up a conversation you were not done having?  Have you felt like you were making progress in a discussion only to have the person to whom you were speaking decide the results were good enough and leave?

Results.  A good conversation has great results.  However, you cannot stay in a conversation forever, waiting for those great results to happen.  People wear out.  Some people will talk forever and never get to a solution.  Others will talk for a minute or two and be done discussing a situation.

Personalities.  Depending on which of those descriptions more accurately represents you, you might find yourself either ending a conversation when the person with whom you are speaking is not done, or needing a longer conversation than the other person is willing to tolerate.

If either person in a conversation is not done, that need must be identified and acted upon in order to bring about the long term results that you want.

What to do?

It’s okay to wrap up the conversation if time is up, either person needs to go, or one person is done.

It’s not okay to ignore someone’s need to continue the conversation at a later time.

It is a good idea to take a break if one person needs it, and acknowledge you are doing so in order to ensure productive use of everyone’s time.

It is not a good idea to leave without some type of summary.

It is a good idea to determine next steps for each meeting participant.

First, ensure you start the conversation with a clear goal in mind.  That goal can be referenced to keep the conversation on track, identify next steps, and if needed, determine the need, and the agenda, for a follow up meeting.

Then, when there is either 10% of the meeting left or when one person gets fidgety, start to summarize what has been accomplished, identify any unmet needs and schedule a follow up meeting if needed at a future date.  The steps each person will take before the next meeting, and the agenda for the follow up meeting should both be clearly identified, committed to and agreed upon.

Simply escaping a conversation does not mean it has finished, and could cost you a lot more time in the long run.

Identifying Strengths & Skills

08 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

Skills are what you are good at doing, but do not necessarily enjoy.  Strengths are what energizes you, but you may not be extremely good at them.  However, strengths are where you have the greatest opportunity to improve your performance because they energize you.

The question is:  How do you know which is which – for yourself and your team members?

  1. Observe carefully.  If you take a moment to observe both yourself and your team as they go about their daily duties, you will see the times when their faces light up, when they begin to work a bit quicker and when they put their nose to the grindstone and stay focused and determined.  Those are the times they are working within their areas of strength.
  2. Listen carefully.  Listen to how your team members speak about certain tasks and roles.  Are they animated, thoughtful and asking good questions?  When do they talk more than usual?  Or when do they think more than usual?  These are times where they are probably talking about their strengths.
  3. Start a discussion.  After you’ve observed and listened to those with whom you work, ask them what they enjoy doing the most.  If you ask them to do a task or assist you in a certain project area, notice how they approach it and then ask them afterwards if they enjoyed what they did.  If they respond with, “Sure, no problem,” ask more questions to clarify.  “I really appreciate your assistance and need your expertise, but it seems like you’d rather I was able to do it on my own or get someone else to help me?”  Then, be ready to do so.

People-pleasers.  The challenge with the above activities is that there are different personality types that make pinpointing strengths difficult.  There are people who will never say “No!” would never admit they did not want to help and will always step in with a smile.  You must observe them much more carefully in order to see what is really energizing to them, and what they do out of need to please others.  Rarely is the desire to please others their actual strength.

Grouches.  The other challenge is those people who have tried very hard to cover any energy they might have in a veil of grouchiness.  In order to protect their ego, their personal space or their fears, they respond almost always with a lack of energy.  You may need to watch them carefully for a longer period of time, offer extra recognition and appreciation for what they do for you, and encourage the things they are good at to see if you can uncover some energizing activities.

Strengths are not always the things you are best at, but certainly can be.  Pinpointing what you are good at can be a decent place to start if you are struggling to identify strengths.

What about you?  What activity are you doing when your energy levels the highest during the day?

A Strength or a Skill? Which is which?

07 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

Janice is a whiz at taking notes, summarizing what happened in a meeting of 20 people going in all directions, and pinpointing not only the most important points, but the action items upon which everyone agreed. Strategically, she asks key questions throughout the meeting to clarify points, expand conversation to alleviate confusion and isolate what needs to be acted upon. Because of her brilliant abilities to do this tough task, Janice is often asked to act in that role.

The problem is, Janice really does not like to take the notes, is worn out by the process and gets bored in that role especially because it prevents her from actively sharing her opinions in the meeting. She is skilled, but taking notes is not her strength.

What is a strength? A strength is something that energizes you.

Think about the times you are excited to be at work, times you really feel full of energy for what you are doing and despite difficulties, you can keep working at a task that is truly challenging. Those are the times you are working with your strengths.

You may not be exceptionally talented in your areas of strength, but the fact is that you are energized by doing the task, by working to get better at it, and have much resilience to push forward.

On the other hand, a skill is something that you are good at doing. Maybe through innate ability, or lots of practice or hard work, you have built up this skill. And it certainly feels good to be successful at something. But, it is not necessarily exciting for you and you don’t look forward to it.

Each individual needs to identify their strengths and pinpoint their skills. Then, the greatest part about a strength is that you are eager to work very hard to get better at it because you enjoy the process. And you have enormous potential to significantly improve your performance in an area of strength. Seize that opportunity and ensure your employees do the same!

Did you ever wonder why difficult conversations occur?