What is a ‘meaningful conversation’?

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We talk a lot about ‘meaningful conversations’ in our discussions with clients; as you can see from the home page, it sits at the centre of what we are all about.

But what do we mean by ‘meaningful conversation’ and why is it so important?

We believe that a key skill of a line manager is the ability to deliver on the stated purpose of a performance management conversation i.e. Set objectives, give feedback, coach or conduct an appraisal, whilst maintaining a high-trust relationship with the individual concerned.

To deliver on both these dimensions, is not as easy as it sounds, but is critical to effective performance management.

Often we see line managers in our training programmes who are excellent at getting the objectives set, or reviewing the performance of an individual at year end, but their approach is coercive, it isn’t a two-way dialogue, it’s imposition.

Employees come away feeling ‘done to’ and disengage; the relationship between them and their line manager suffers as a result.

Alternatively, the line manager is very sensitive to the relationship with their team member and overcompensates in not delivering on the purpose of the conversation i.e. perhaps some ‘difficult’ feedback which needs to be conveyed.

Here the line manager drifts into ‘friendly chat’ area and this can leave the employee somewhat confused and unclear as to what has been said and/or what they are expected to do.

Suffice to say, any conversation that fails to address either of these dimensions becomes meaningless in every sense!


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