Top tips for successful conversations

The conversation, sense-making, process is a really important part of measurement. When we discuss results with colleagues, we paint a more accurate picture of the drivers of happy work experiences.

To respect people’s time and contributions, a different conversation lead can be nominated each time to guide the nature and outcomes of your conversation. This could be a team leader, a happiness champion, or anyone with a passion for people and culture, but it’s great to share the role around so everyone can fully participate in the process.

Here are our top tips to help your conversations flow:

Facilitate, don’t fix

The role of the conversation lead is to facilitate the process, not fix the problems. They should direct the group process, ask open questions, and make sure everyone gets to speak, but resist making decisions on behalf of the group, although they can sum up the actions.

Set some structure

To have carved out some business time to check in on how employees are doing is an amazing opportunity, so thinking about the structure of your conversation can help get the most out of what everyone is putting in. The Presentation view in Friday is designed to help the conversation lead with this team chat and following this can help conversations about your Friday results be even more beneficial.

Establish a positive mind-set

The conversation lead’s first task is to create a positive tone for the team conversation. We start the Presentation view with the conversation starter question, but you could start your conversation with a quick, ‘smile-producing’ activity. Just asking people about one good thing that happened to them recently can help shake off any anxiety or negative feelings they might bring into the room. Also encourage each other to pay attention to the good scores (as well as the bad). It’s important to understand what’s going well, but also positive emotions improve our capacity to process information and understand each others’ perspectives.

Agree a safe, supportive and challenging space for discussion

Use your group guidelines to establish the “rules of engagement” – ensuring that all team members feel free to share experiences, explore different perspectives and build on each other’s thinking. Keep the focus positive and ask open-ended (rather than ‘yes-no’ questions) such as “What do you notice about our happiness?” and “What’s the story behind these numbers?”

Don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions

This is best done compassionately and without making any judgements of your own. Asking people to explain why they think something encourages them to share their thinking in progress, as well as fully-formed ideas.

Take inspiration from others

Think about what other teams and organizations have done. Research how they do it. You could even invite someone from another team who is scoring well in an area you want to improve in to join your conversation, so you can all find out more.

Create a visual record

Often people think in pictures, so you could make simple visual records of your discussions. You don’t need to be artists but you will need some materials - paper, pens and post-its can be a good start. This can improve people’s capacity to be creative, process information, and see connections. Besides, it’s fun!

Come to an agreement on your opportunities

Your discussions will probably create a list of things you want to work on. Try to come to a consensus on these to help everyone feel some ownership. If your conversation is taking place with a sub-set of your team or division, ask the wider group to like and comment on the suggestions you arrive at. You can use voting to involve your colleagues in the design of the team’s action plan too. Give everyone in the team the option to vote for the issues they feel more passionately should be addressed.

Commit to one goal

The aim of the conversation is for team members to feel excited about the prospect of taking action, based on your discussions and the flow of ideas. Commit to one “action for happiness at work”. Unless your team is going to get a sabbatical from its day job, you’ll need to pick one or two to focus on – you can always come back to the others later. This action can be personal pledges, a team challenge or a commitment to take the first steps in developing a new idea.

Build in time to reflect

Remember to include a bit of time to review progress on commitments in your next discussion or on a regular basis.