Late one evening a mid-career employee sent an email to his manager to request a meeting. The topic of the discussion was: “Should I Stay, or Should I Go? The manager responded back to the employee with a meeting notice, scheduling the discussion for 11:30 the following day. He then sent me a note, asking if I was available for a quick call the following morning at 8:30 am.
During our discussion, the managers concern was the correct way to respond to the question. He stated that the employee was an excellent employee, that over the past year he had excelled in his performance. In fact, he had recently conducted the performance review with the employee, where he provided feedback on the employee’s performance and discussed development goals. He was confident that he was prepared to give the employee the feedback that would answer the question – which was the subject of the scheduled meeting. His hesitation was that he thought the conversation would not be about performance at all.
During our conversation, I explored with the manager – the potential driver for the employee exploring the option of leaving and an approach to conducting the conversation. As our conversation progressed, he acknowledged that the employee seemed out of sync and was no longer engaging with the team. He also acknowledged that the employee had been taking more time off from work or leaving early, but since he was executing well on his tasks it was not a problem.
Ultimately, we agreed that he would approach the discussion as a purpose conversation. In a purpose conversation the manager explores with the employee their contextualized purpose – linking the work to what is meaningful at this moment in their lives and in their careers.
The purpose conversation is driven by the employee with the manager’s focus on asking open ended questions, designed to promote open dialog and engagement with the employee. In this case we agreed the critical role of the manager was to actively listen to the employee.
In preparation, a critical component of the process, the manager prepared a few exploratory questions to help him to prepare for the discussion:
- How can I help?
- What is driving this discussion? (A variation on the question Are you Happy here?)
- What matters to you at this moment?
- What is getting in your way of achieving your Goals?
As we ended our call, I applauded the manager for creating a trusting environment where the employee was comfortable asking for a meeting to discuss this pivotal moment in his life.
There are several questions that a leader can use for a purpose conversation, however it is important to use question that facilitate discussion.
Should I stay, or should I go? It is a question that can only be answered by an employee, however a supportive and engaged manager can assist in helping the employee make the best decision for themselves and ultimately the organization.
Are you engaging in Purposeful Conversations with your employees? Is this a development area for you? If so let’s connect so that I may assist you on your journey.