Talking Still Works

That thing called a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation is the most powerful tool you’ve got, and yes, talking still works! True, it’s hard to schedule a time to meet with each person on your team and even harder to prepare for those meetings if you have a multi-bulleted agenda. You can relax about the prep work if you start with the one question that’s on your mind. That’s usually enough.

Manager talking to an employee

Are you worried about your favorite employee leaving? Meet her for coffee and ask her if she’s thinking about going. If you have a strong, trusting relationship, she’ll tell you. I’ve had this turn into opportunities, and I’ve had it turn into transitions. Either way, we’re moving forward.

If you are in more of a corporate environment where people are a little more guarded, ask her what she would change if she had the opportunity. Talk about why she has chosen to stay and let her know how important she is to you and the team. It’s a good start.

If you manage people, you’ve already had the conversations where you encourage your folks to pick up the phone instead of sending a quick text or email. A phone call is sometimes the best you can do, but if it’s possible, make time to connect face to face. In almost 25 years of working with clients, HR teams, supervisors, and employees, I have never regretted having a one-on-one conversation. I always learned something valuable and walked away satisfied with the decision to set aside the time.

Being busy sounds important, but slowing down to connect with the people who matter is enlightening and impactful. Ask. Listen. Repeat. Simple. We can do it.