Do you really know how your work mates, clients, colleagues and friends are doing? I mean really. It’s often awkward to ask right?! Even with national ‘Are you ok?’ days in place we still find the real conversations weird and uncomfortable.
In my experience, it’s not that we are uncomfortable for them… it’s hard for us. We are nervous about what it can open up. What if we are now talking about stuff in their personal lives that we can’t help with? Or a flood of emotions that freak us out? Or even the ‘well meaning’ advice about how we are coming across, our impact on others or our ability to do our job.
It’s not our gig to fix people’s personal stuff.
It’s not our gig to manage their emotional reactions.
It’s not our gig to even agree with everything people say.
Do you know what is? To care. To show empathy. To treat others with respect. We know that. But it’s not always easy and sometimes not even natural.
I was with a group of leaders a few weeks ago and we were talking about how we design awesome check ins – with their people and their Managers. And Daniel has got a ripper way to find out what’s going on and make it less awkward.
Daniel starts his catch ups with ‘How are you out of 5’?
5 is when ‘everything is awesome’. I can hear a lego movie song right there.
1 is when it’s falling apart. Maybe they are falling apart?
Daniel calls this his Mood-a-Meter.
Bloody brilliant! I’ve always loved openers for catch ups that Michael Bungay Stainer suggests in his book ‘The Coaching Habit’ – ‘What’s on your mind?’. Because it opens up the conversation to be anything that the person might need it to be. But people could still hide behind it and go straight to a task focused conversation or even a complaint about something or someone. If it’s on their mind, then yeah, let’s talk about it.
Asking someone to put a number of where they are at requires them to really think about the answer. And it’s harder to avoid their truth.
We did it in our team meeting last week. It opened up some awesome conversations. We didn’t have to solve stuff for each other. But we now know what’s on people’s plates – personally and professionally.
It doesn’t have to be for people who report to you or your colleagues or mates. Why don’t you test it with your Manager. I’m tipping they will value that you cared enough to ask. The conversations might surprise you too. In a good way.
Thanks Dan. You’re the man!