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10 Conversations You're Avoiding and How to Start Them

Mary Jo Asmus

We are happy to share this blog by Mary Jo Asmus, owner and operator of Aspire Collaborative Services. This entry was originally published on her company blog.

How often do you have a conversation with your team that consists of something other than what's being done, what needs to get done, and what they didn't do? Slow down and include some conversations that are a level deeper than that; you'll find that if you ask a few good starting questions and listen, you - and they - will learn, grow, and develop the kind of relationships that actually help to get things done with enjoyment and engagement.

There are lots of conversations you can have that you aren't. Here are some of my favorites and some questions you can ask to get things going:

1. Development: You don't have to dream up development plans for your team members all by yourself. Enlist their help with questions like:

  • What do you imagine your future looks like?
  • What do you think you can do to move toward your imagined future? How can I help?

2. Leadership: Share your leadership with your team by having a conversation about what it means for them to be leaders. Begin the conversation with:

  • What kind of leader are you?
  • What kind of leader do you want to be? How will you get there?

3. Values: By having a conversation about the values you share as a team, you make them explicit. Ask:

  • What are the top values that we share together as a team?
  • What does it mean for us to truly commit to those values? How will we hold each other accountable for them?

4. Ethics: The conversation about ethics often doesn't happen until it's too late. Be proactive by inquiring:

  • What is our team code of ethics?
  • How will we self-manage around the code?

5. Conversations: A conversation about conversations? Yes, absolutely! Ask:

  • What conversations do we need to have that we aren't having?
  • If we were to have a conversation now about how we can improve our work, how would we start?

6. Relationships: My guess is that you're not talking about relationships, a foundation for great teams and leadership. Begin today by asking:

  • What relationships, that when improved can help us to achieve our goals?
  • If you could describe our team relationships in one sentence, what would that sentence say?

7. Team conflict: Conflict is everywhere; you can't avoid it. Have a conversation about the elephants in the room by probing:

  • What conflicts within the team aren't we talking about?
  • How will we manage conflict now and in the future?

8. Balance: Everyone wants "balance" but almost nobody is talking explicitly about it. Start by inquiring:

  • What questions do we need to ask ourselves to assure we're balanced in all areas of our lives?
  • What do I need to do to promote and model work/life balance for all of us?

9. Appreciation: Your team craves appreciation. Why not learn together about how to appreciate each other by asking:

  • What do we need to learn about how to appreciate each other?
  • How can we best express our appreciation to each other?

10. Helping: Great teams learn to recognize when teammates need help. Help your team become aware of how to know when help is needed with these questions:

  • What opportunities do we see to help each other more?
  • What assumptions and challenges do we need to test that keep us from asking for (or accepting) other team members' help?

Sometimes you may not know how to begin a conversation you need to have with your team. Questions are a great way to start!

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