Why Talking is the Most Profitable Thing You Can Do Today

Have you ever had to have a difficult conversation? It could be telling a friend that they’ve upset you. Ending a relationship. Or asking for help. There’s a vulnerability that comes with any conversations that are not defined or clear-cut. Any conversation that might take a turn for the worse. Or that might deal with uncomfortable or painful subjects.

The Fear of Failure

When it comes to such conversations, the work environment is no different. Except you can add into that heady mix the added potential pressures of professional egos, of hierarchies within organisational structures and, of course, the ever-contentious issues of both money and promotion.

But fear of conversations going wrong, of unearthing difficult subjects or bringing up questions to which managers do not know the answer to can prevent senior figures from ever having meaningful conversations with their employees. And this can have extraordinarily negative impacts on a business. Losing your best talent is one thing, losing them to a competitor can be disastrous.

Supporting your managers and employees to have “difficult” conversations about careers is a vital part of retaining your organisation’s talent – and of its success. So introducing the use of tools to frame such conversations can be an effective way to keep topics on track, to explore uncomfortable issues with ease and to be both effective and efficient.

The Time to Talk

We’re all busy, and as technology gets faster and more essential to our working lives, we’re getting busier. According to a 2014 report by Radicati, “Business users send and receive on average 121 emails a day in 2014, and this is expected to grow to 140 emails a day by 2018.” And so it goes.

It’s understandable then, that taking time out to talk to someone can add to the heavy stress of deadlines, meeting times and the varied demands of an already hectic day. But it doesn’t have to be like that. With a little care, investment and planning, both managers and employees can be given the time they need to think about and prepare for career conversations. And this also means that such conversations can take place in a short and contained space of time – enhanced by the benefits of reflection, consideration and a clear agenda.

All too often I hear that enormous, life-changing questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?’ have been thrown in as afterthoughts at annual reviews. It’s as if managers are scared to hear their employees’ answers or worried they won’t know what to do with the answer, if one is forthcoming. And conversely, in such situations, employees can feel pressurised to say what they think their managers want to hear. Or they’re silenced and don’t reply at all. What a missed opportunity – on both sides.

The Confidence to Converse

Can you say with confidence that your employees have the opportunity to say what they need from their role? Can they define their ambitions within your organisation in clear, structured and achievable terms? Or are they struggling to take ownership of their career development? Are your managers finding it hard to have effective career conversations?

Having a toolkit provides a clear framework to work within that can give managers the confidence they need to push forward with career conversations. It means that the heavy lifting of what subjects to talk about – and how – is taken care of and that conversation can flow. And this can have a transformative effect, from both within and without an organisation.

Working in this way, with forethought, planning and a safe and structured framework allows for even the most delicate or challenging subjects to be discussed with confidence, and in an efficient and effective manner.

Just think for a moment. If you knew you could start to talk without fear and if you knew that by talking you could have a significant positive impact on your company’s bottom line – and your own happiness at work – what would you say? And why haven’t you said it yet?

5 Characteristics of Highly Effective Career Conversations

Do you want to have positive career conversations that will help employees take ownership of their career development?  Download your own copy of “5 Characteristics of Highly Effective Career Conversations“.


Author: Antoinette Oglethorpe

Leadership development and talent management specialist from the UK. During 25 years in business I have developed leaders for multinational organisations like P&G, Accenture, and XL Group. A defining moment of my career was when I helped start up Avanade, a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft. As International Learning Director I helped Avanade grow to 1200 employees in its first year and then to grow organically by 40% year on year. I have combined my understanding of the corporate world with my start up experience to design a simple framework for developing leaders in fast-growing companies. At Antoinette Oglethorpe Ltd, we apply this framework to help our clients develop their leaders. deliver the strategy and drive results.

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