Talk Business To Me, Baby! — Communication Tip for Leaders

One-on-one time with my husband the other night didn’t quite turn out the way I originally thought it would.

Joe and I have four kids, including a newborn, so sleep is often hard to come by. And adult alone time? Well, we’re in this wild season of life where we reminisce about past memories alone together where we did really crazy things… like eating our food while it was still hot!

Baby Holt still wakes up multiple times during the night so usually, when she goes down around 9:00 p.m., I do too. Every extra minute of sleep is priceless at this stage, right?! But Joe and I are missing each other so we’re both making an effort to make time for each other.

A few nights ago, after laying Holt down then crawling out of the room like a ninja (Parents, you know what I am talking about!), I gently shut the door, ran quietly on my tiptoes to the living room and found my husband working on his laptop.

As I came in the room he shut the computer as if to signal that he was shifting from working to date-night. This was our time – we both agreed. As he closed his computer, I casually asked what he was working on. After a minute or two of intently listening to him discuss a project at work, I jumped up and said, “Hold on! Pause! I want to hear this. But let me get a snack!”

Opened the fridge. Checked the pantry. With arms full of all the good stuff, I walked back into the living room, offered him a snack, sat down close to him, and said with a slick smile on my face, “Talk business to me, baby!”

People Change
“Did I really just say that?” I thought to myself. I did. And I meant it…even if it was dorky. We both laughed. You see, it’s funny because I never pictured myself being the type of person who’d prefer a conversation on leadership, finances, strategic planning, etc. versus playing a game, watching a movie, etc.

But, 15 years have passed since we’ve been together. I’ve changed…what I enjoy has changed, what inspires me and refuels me has changed. Because of that, mine and Joe’s goals have changed, how we enjoy spending time together has changed, what we do for fun has changed, and so on. Joe and I intentionally often talk about how we’ve evolved individually and collectively. Those intentional discussions allow us to interact and connect with each other on a deeper level – our relationship is stronger because of it.

Innocent, Incorrect Assumptions
It’s not just me that has changed over time — we all do. Think about your team. They’ve likely individually and collectively changed over time. Whether it’s a person’s goals, wants, needs, motivations, or skills…over time, people change.

The challenge at work comes from the assumption that because you’ve worked with someone for so long, you innocently assume you know who they are and where they stand.

Is it possible that changes have occurred that not everyone is aware of? Maybe an employee or co-worker has changed in a way you don’t know yet. Who knows, maybe you’re the one who has changed?

Either way, neither of you may realize changes have occurred until it’s too late…when one day you wake up and two really great people are just not doing it for each other so you decide to go your separate ways — unless you have intentional discussions.

New Year, New Conversations
If there ever was a time for changes to occur, this would be it! This is a great time to schedule a conversation with your people to discuss changes over the past year.

Here are some questions to help kickstart the conversation:

  • How have your priorities changed over the past year?
  • Have you found any new ways to relieve stress or have fun this year?
  • What did you enjoy most about your work this year?
  • What do you wish you had more time to work on?
  • How can I help you be more successful in accomplishing what you want in 2021?

There must be a purpose behind the questions. It’s beneficial to understand the “what and why” behind employee’s goals and motivations, especially as they change. This knowledge helps you correctly delegate responsibility, evaluate performance, and put the right people in the right places.

Intentional communication with employees and coworkers focused on creating and maintaining a mutual understanding of each other allows leaders to lead better. So, get to talking. More importantly, get to listening.

© Alyson Van Hooser  All Rights Reserved.


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