Conversation: an operating system to talk about – Canadian Government Executive

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September 14, 2015

Conversation: an operating system to talk about

Written by  Brady G. Wilson

You may not realize it, but your organization is home to an incredibly powerful operating system (O/S).

Think outside the realm of technology. What has the potential to engage and energize your employees, bring teams closer together, and create a high-performing workforce?

It’s conversation.

Conversation is the common denominator behind “apps” like customer service, feedback, coaching, strategy and innovation. Conversation—that is, quality, meaningful conversation between leaders and employees—powers up all the things that make a business successful.

Not sure you agree that conversation is your organization’s most mighty O/S? Consider what would happen without conversation. All those apps would crash—and your business would fail.

Talking heads
Let’s go a bit more “micro” and look at the human brain.

Conversation is, essentially, our brain’s O/S. This is because every single message transmitted from one neuron to another enables us to see, hear, move…and think. If all those 100 billion neurons were to stop talking to one another, our bodies and ability to process information would cease to function.

Meanwhile, science shows us that our own brains are significantly strengthened and enhanced by social conversations “between brains.” This is our native wiring: and consequently, the perfect O/S that we need to connect, understand and harmonize with others.

So, as neuronal conversations are the way the brain gets things done, employee conversations are the way that organizations get things done.

With this in mind, then, why do organizations not integrate conversation into their own employee engagement initiatives?

Ignoring conversation = missed opportunities
Using engagement surveys as an example, consider how organizations often deal with results.

Rather than pause to consider the “why” behind results, leaders will rush to create strategies—one-size-fits-all, broad-brush strategies built on nothing but numbers.

But employees do not respond well to global solutions. They want to know that they have been listened to. Leaders who draft plans without taking time to consider context or “backstory” practically guarantee employee non-compliance to any engagement initiative.

Organizations that ignore the importance of conversation are missing out on a range of opportunities to create a higher-performing workforce.

Here’s why: science shows that when you have meaningful, face-to-face conversations that demonstrate value, respect and care, this boosts the brain’s processing power—forming a feel-good energy cocktail of connection, calm, concentration, creativity and curiosity. Essentially, conversation can deepen the leader-employee relationship, energize employees, and power those apps that make a business so successful.

No time to talk?
Don’t feel you have time to talk to your employees?

Consider this: concerns that are unaddressed tend to fester and simmer. And then…they turn into “crucial,” “fierce” or “difficult” conversations—consuming multiples of energy, time and mind-space from everyone in the organization.

Leaders save themselves a lot of headaches when they move beyond engagement as we know it today, and honour how the brain works.

And not only that: conversations don’t have to take up a lot of time.

Short, simple “Energy Check” conversations are a proven and effective way to unlock insight and possibility in your employees’ minds. It can be as simple as asking employees what is energizing them at the moment, and what is depleting their energy. Done systematically, this technique can catch issues before they become calamity-based, saving time in the process.

Easy to install
Conversation already exists in your organization. It’s simply up to leaders to embrace it as the key operating system that drives the business—and shifting their mindset to include conversation in all engagement endeavours. This generates energy, fueling a great customer experience as well as business results.

 

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