One of the biggest challenges I hear from people at 5pm is 'I've spent all day in meetings and talking with people, now I need to get the work done'.
This is why conversations aren't just about talk. What these people really mean, is that in order to deliver on the promises they have made all day to their stakeholders, they need to do something. Whether it be to initiate a conversation with someone else, share information with their team, or make sure delivery of a task or project is on track, they need to act. Because if the activity doesn't happen, they won't deliver, will lose face and ultimately, the trust of their stakeholders.
'Talking' is just one element of the conversation. It's the visible bit. But it's all the work that happens before and after that makes conversations count.
Think about the following questions when you're preparing for your next conversation:
Before the conversation
Are you talking with the right people? Who do you need to be talking to now, to deliver an outcome 6 weeks away?
What do you know about them? What do you need to do to prepare them and yourself to have an effective conversation that delivers an outcome?
When should the conversation take place? Is it one conversation (simple issue) or a series of conversations (more complex issues)? Do you have enough time for everyone to adequately prepare?
After the conversation
What needs to happen now? Who is ultimately responsible for delivery? Who else do you need to talk with?
How often should you update your stakeholder?
How should you close out the project or issue? Is there anyone else you should share the outcome with?
When executed correctly, conversations are an incredibly powerful tool to connect logic with emotion and in doing so, shift the focus from 'me' to 'we'. This is why conversations are at the core of an effective strategic business partner relationship and can be the difference between an awesome and awful crunch time.
For this to be true, all elements of a conversation must be present. You need to:
Initiate conversations with the right people.
Formulate a tailored communication approach that will be most effective for each conversation.
Communicate clearly, with the flexibility to balance empathy, accuracy, importance and urgency.
Make sure the work is done to validate the assertions you shared with your stakeholder.
Being a strategic business partner is like being a conductor of an orchestra. You can't just focus on the strings section. You need the skills to make sure that all sections of the orchestra - including woodwinds, brass and percussion - are in tune, know when to come in and at what volume and tempo. It's complex, but when done right, delivers powerful outcomes.
Love to hear how your conversations go today....