Hey boss, what do you want to know? – Part 2

Yesterday you met Lucy:

“Aloha Rosa,
Well, you got my boss convinced. She read your book and started doing The Daily 5 Minutes with us. She tells us we can talk about whatever we want, but I’m just not used to this. Do you have any suggestions for me after I exhaust the small talk?

Thanks for your time, Lucy”

I had given Lucy a couple of quick suggestions, but I promised her I’d post more here on Talking Story after I’d thought about it from both her perspective and her boss’s point of view.

So Part 1 was yesterday: When you’re the employee getting The Daily 5 Minutes and what follows is

Part 2: When you’re the boss giving The Daily 5 Minutes

If by chance this is your first time to Talking Story, read about the Daily Five Minutes here first. As we continue D5M will = The Daily Five Minutes. In this post Lucy = your staff too.

Part 2: When you’re the boss

I’m not going to repeat what we talked about yesterday, but I would encourage you to read it from the standpoint of what it says about your role as well as Lucy’s.

Let’s go back to the beginning, to when Lucy’s boss made the decision to bring the D5M into the company culture. From what Lucy told me, it sounded like she (the boss) did do a good job in explaining it first so everyone knew what to expect. When you introduce the D5M, tell your staff what it is and what their role is within it, but also be sure to tell them why you want to do it, and what you anticipate the rewards will be for both of you.

The why is so important: they have to trust you, and believe you feel it is a good thing. You don’t want them to be questioning your motives because you didn’t tell them enough about it.

When you think about it, this pertains to a lot of the communicating we do with our staff whether in the D5M or another forum, doesn’t it.

Here are a few more tips for you:

1. Please don’t have the D5M in your office, even when you are confident Lucy is very comfortable there. I’ve tried the D5M both ways, and when you get out on Lucy’s turf you learn more. Demeanor, body language, workplace triggers, everything is better.

2. Timing is everything. Take 5 with someone when they are stressed or under pressure and they’ll unload on you. Now if they’re chronically stressed lately that conversation may be needed, but that’s counseling, not the Daily Five Minutes.

3. Same goes for you: we all have our bad days, and if today is turning into a royal bummer for you skip the D5M and do it tomorrow … Ka lā hiki ola, it will be the dawning of a new day.

4. Learn to love silence and get comfortable with it. Remind yourself constantly that the D5M is Lucy’s time and not yours.   If she is slow to say something she may just need to warm up, especially in the beginning. If you really feel you must initiate something, ask her permission to speak — yes, literally, “may I say something?” — then ask an open-ended question that will give her a jump-start.

In The One Thing You Need to Know, Marcus Buckingham claims that there are three things you must know about a person in order to manage them effectively: “strengths and weakness, triggers, and unique styles of learning.”

Further, he says you can identify them in your staff by asking them 5 questions he’s compiled in a half-hour mini interview.   Six minutes per question ” those are 5 D5M conversations right there!

His question for strengths: “What was the best day at work you’ve had in the last three months? What were you doing? Why did you enjoy it so much?”

5. I can’t say enough about the power of a well-timed clarifying question. As managers we don’t use them enough. When Lucy offers up some information to you, ask her more about it. Your question conveys you are listening and interested in what she thinks about something, not only what she knows about it. Learn to ask Lucy for opinions which lead to suggested solutions.

6. Learn to be in the moment and be fully present. Be sure your cellular phone is on silent and focus all your attentions on Lucy. It’s only 5 minutes!

7. That suggestion I gave Lucy to keep a blank index card or small notebook in your pocket is a good one for you too. However what you want to write down is what Lucy tells you so you remember it, especially when she will be expecting you to take some action. And follow up: if you don’t Lucy will fail to see the value in Taking 5 with you again.

8. Have your calendar with you too. When Lucy uses her D5M to preview something with you and set a future appointment, you really don’t want to put that wall of formality up and ask her to call your admin. Resist the natural tendency to cut the D5M short, and use the full 5 minutes for the preview: get whatever info you can then and there so you can do your homework and make the most out of that future conversation. Let Lucy know what you’ll expect her to come back to you with.

9. Share your aloha, and always end with mahalo: “Thank you Lucy for taking 5 with me today.” Choose your own words and say it to convey you genuinely mean it.

I will repeat the last tip I left for Lucy yesterday: Have fun with this. Enjoy those Daily 5 Minutes you have with Lucy and the rest of your staff. There is much value in small talk, don’t try to minimize it. The serious stuff will get interspersed occasionally as it needs to, but for the most part you want to both look forward to the D5M. We all could use another bright ray of sunshine in our work day, and the Daily 5 Minutes can serve up some strong ones.

In his new book, Never Eat Alone, author Keith Ferrazzi says,

“The only way to get people to do anything is to recognize their importance and thereby make them feel important. Every person’s deepest lifelong desire is to be significant and to be recognized.   What better way is there to show appreciation and to lavish praise on others than to take an interest in who they are and what their mission is?”

That’s the sun you shine on Lucy with the Daily Five Minutes you spend with her. That’s how you can feel the warmth of being a great manager.

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