Crunch time is when we compress a lot of hard work into a relatively short amount of time. It's the classic pressure cooker scenario. Every minute counts. So during a time where business partner engagement and stakeholder management is critical, teams must be having the right conversation. With ourselves, with each other, and with our stakeholders and clients. The 4 conversations necessary for success are defined by reference to who we're having them with, and whether we're focused on our own backyard or that of our stakeholders.
The 4 conversations for success
1. Conversations in our head: with ourselves, internally focused This is the self-talk that can make or break us. During crunch times, we can get into the circle of despair and the self-fulfilling prophecy of it means it's hard to get out. On the other hand, to quote the amazing Matt Church, 'You lead best when the best version of you, leads the best version of us.'
What this conversation is really about? Mindset
Why is this conversation so important to get right? Energy
What we focus on is what we do. Focus on the right stuff, have the right conversation with ourselves, so we fuel the right tank to succeed during crunch time.
2. Conversations with our team: within our own team, externally focused Are the bulk of the conversations with your team filled with agreement, challenge, deflection or blame? Or are they task focused? Do you have productive cross functional conversations? A careful balance is required, but one thing is certain: the topics that consume the majority of your team conversations usually frame the 'external' conversation and are visible to others. Get the balance right.
What this conversation is really about? Culture
Why is this conversation so important to get right? Risk
For accuracy and effectiveness during crunch time, we need to have the right cultural landscape. If we don't have the right conversations with our own teams, we run the risk of error due to fatigue or even worse, fraud due to apathy.
3. Conversation with stakeholders/clients: with others, internally focused
What is the purpose of each conversation with your stakeholders? Are you trying to make a point? Provoke a new thought or conversation? These are the conversations that make people 'look up and listen' when you speak.
What this conversation is really about? Impact
Why is this conversation so important to get right? Presence
Presence precedes profile. If you don't have presence, people won't 'hear' you and you'll find it hard to influence others.
4. Conversation with stakeholders/clients: with others, externally focused
How do you approach challenging conversations with your stakeholders? How much time do you spend preparing yourself for the conversation and 'putting yourself in their shoes'? These are the conversations where you act as expert facilitator, tasked with steering an outcome.
What this conversation is really about? Influence
Why is this conversation so important to get right? Purpose
When we are all operating with aligned purpose, we can be creative in the way we achieve success without compromise to risk and quality. We work together to overcome obstacles and achieve the outcome. Mindset, culture, impact and influence. These are the 4 conversations you need to be having. When one is missing, you skew the conversation and therefore the outcome. During crunch times, where a balance of commercial acumen, accuracy and objectivity are required, this isn't ideal. What conversation do you need to be having?