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A chat is now an app, but it used to be a simple and quick conversation. Whether you’re character limited or just short on time, these three topics are essential to real leaders and the teams they have the privilege of leading. Have each one and keep up the process or soon you’ll find employees wandering from their goal and straying from your direction. These are not formal, long drawn out conversations, but more informal, yet invaluable situations in which you lead their efforts and get to keep up motivation, communication, morale, and your leadership. So, let’s dive in on those first of those essential chats you want to start having:

The One that Sets the Tone

When a new employee joins the team, whether internal or from outside the company, the leader sets the tone from which much of their initial behavior and foundation will be set. What is the feeling you create when a new employee walks in on that first morning? Are you dismissive or too busy? A demeanor of that nature will take months to undo as first impressions are more powerful than you might wish were true. It is far better and far more effective in establishing a high performing and contributing team member, to spend the first few hours of the day building a rapport with and informing your new hire personally. In the time you spend, these are the minimum areas best to cover.

  • Any remaining paperwork and administrative logistics not handled by your HR department
  • Your expectations of their work performance and how long you plan to give them to get to them
  • Their expectations of you as their leader
  • Each of your mutual pet peeves or hot buttons
  • Your leadership and communication style and the way in which he or she best responds to information

Chat with this team member in a way that sets the tone for how you both will work together, even if you’re not in the same office. Video chat or do Facetime, but set the tone. Do this and you’ll find the relationship tends to flourish without the need for continued micromanagement once the employee has settled into the position.

The One that Sends Them Down the Road

With all of the effort that it takes to actually terminate an employee, not to mention the emotional strain and drain on the leader and other team members, it’s best to make the most of an employee’s exit. The chat had at this stage is about information gathering. What can be learned from this employee’s experience? What will they tell you now that they would have never told you when it might risk their job or your perception? This is the time to ask real questions, no matter how much, for some, you’d like to speed up their exit. The day the employee is leaving, ask him or her at least these three questions:

  • What could I have done differently as the leader/ your boss/ your manager?
  • What were the primary barriers, if any, to your performance or to staying longer in this position?
  • What would you say to someone new who is just entering our company or this position?

The information gained from these questions and this kind of chat may lower your attrition number and may also keep you from having to have as many exit interview chats in the future.

The One that Develops Them

The chats that develop team members are frequent, take many forms, and are likely different for each person. Rather than follow the more traditional model of no news is good news when it comes to how often you expect to talk with your boss, be proactive in challenging, checking in, and chatting about development with even your highest performers. For each team member, chats on development, also often called coaching, can be as simple as using these questions:

  • I see you’re doing great things! Anything standing in your way that I can remove or change?
  • If there were one area in which you could improve, what would that be?
  • What’s next for you?

These questions can be part of a formal chat or more of a spur of the moment ride-along, hallway conversation, or video conference. The information will serve as insight into both their perception and their expectations, as well as areas in which you can and often should make an impact.

If you feel like you talk all day, but never really say anything of substance or meaning or that moves the needle, save this post. Save these questions and make it point to increase the frequency with which you have these kinds of chats. It’s when these chats go missing that employees start thinking you’re hard to talk to, don’t find value in what they do, or are just downright scary or intimidating. You’re the boss and you’re busy. Now make leading them a top priority and get to chatting in ways that mean something and exhibit real leadership.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of  www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121.

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