- Be fully present. Practice being fully present in your conversations with people. Avoid distractions, give undivided attention, and show you care. Of course, we all know this is easier said than done—but this alone can go a long way toward building trust.
2. Get, and keep, the conversation focused. It is easier to help a direct report move forward, faster, if they are the one who declares a specific focus for the discussion. Having them establish a focus creates a more deliberate and intentional conversation. Keep in mind there will be times when the conversation goes off topic. When it does, the manager is expected to get the conversation back on track.
3. Ask mostly open-ended questions, especially those starting with what and how. Open-ended questions promote discovery for the other person. The most essential questions coaches ask are what and how questions that help direct reports discover their own answers or course of action.
4. Stay action focused. Help the direct report create a plan of action that will move them forward. Share coaching questions such as “What do you think you need to do now?” As much as possible, keep the ownership of the plan, and any actions, in the direct report’s court. Actions they take may turn out to be excellent growth opportunities. Keeping the ball in the other court allows managers to get on to other things on their to-do list.
5. Follow up. Check in with direct reports on their progress, their learnings, and any challenges they might be facing. Doing this helps them keep what they said they would do top of mind. It also shows them again that you care—which is never a bad thing.
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