Working with a close associate a few years back, I noticed something particularly refreshing and interesting about him. I’ll call him Hal. I checked in with Hal every few weeks regarding a big project he was working on. Each time we met Hal’s project was not only farther down the field, the progress was significant and noticeable.
Reflecting back, Hal’s progress wasn’t the result of any big outside-the-box strategy. It started with his thinking and actions, and most importantly, how Hal conversed with people. He brought a low ego to his conversations, was a great listener and focused on finding areas of agreement – areas he would then lean on to move things forward. Hal’s conversations drew conclusions and created a bias for action. Hal actually slowed down to go faster.
We’ve all had a sense of Déjà vu before. For me, these feelings seem to surface during business meetings. Some people may describe the feeling as Ground-hog Day or feeling a bit car sick, however, we have all been stuck in circular conversations that don’t move things forward. Agendas and minutes are helpful, vision and strategies vital; but I think constructively candid conversation that evolves is the key.
Some things to consider.
Make sure your team understands the difference between speed and velocity. While speed is distance traveled over time, velocity is speed in a given direction. We have all witnessed co-workers who are constantly in motion with all kinds of activity, yet nothing seems to happen. And then Hal comes along. He doesn’t seem to move any faster than anyone else, yet significant progress is always made.
Talk about what you actually want versus what you don’t want. Bosses are famous for this. It goes something like, “as long as you don’t do X and Y, go ahead”, only to see your big new plan shot down a couple of months later. Or you have an associate who tells you all the things not to do or why something won’t work. There is a time and place for this kind of thinking, but it’s important to focus evolving conversations on what people actually want.
Let me know if you have any unique ways to ensure evolving, constructively candid communication – for both yourself and your co-workers.