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Answer These Questions Before Your Next Conversation


Tue Sep 05 2017

Answer These Questions Before Your Next Conversation-ff989c61d15d26e4981266ed696b5ee320dc229137690e777a802ede5a766348

In her July 8, 2017, Forbes article, “The Leadership Skill Everyone Needs—And 90% of Managers Lack,” Liz Ryan writes, “New managers typically receive little to no training in ’people management,’ although it is the crux of their job.” Ryan goes on to say that the skill managers need is that of perspective-taker. Among the situations that require seeing things from another’s vantage point: conflict resolution, negotiation, argumentation, and persuasive communication.

The ACCEL model, a framework developed by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), points to five skills that similarly enhance effective communication across boundaries with your co-workers and direct reports. These skills are accountability, collaboration, communication, engagement, and listening and assessing.


A survey conducted by ATD Research found that less than a third of the people surveyed felt that managers in their organization demonstrated these core competencies to a high degree. We can’t necessarily blame managers—they often get the short shrift as report after report talks about employees leaving organizations because of a bad boss. As Ryan said, managers just don’t get the necessary training in this critical area.

According to Katy Tynan, the author of the September 2017 issue of TD at Work, “Develop Management Skills With the ACCEL Model,” to communicate more effectively you need to consider the following:

Who is providing the message, and who is on the receiving end? This is true whether you are providing feedback, delegating a task, or just having a casual conversation. If you’re the manager, what type of relationship do you have with your direct report? How are they apt to receive the message?

What information do you need to share? Do you have all the important background data that you need prior to having the conversation? For example, if you received a customer complaint that has been escalated, do you have the information you need to have a conversation with your direct report, the person who dealt with the customer?

When do you have to have the conversation? As Tynan writes, “If you want your message to have the best chance of being heard, understood, and acted on, think about when to deliver it.” Now is an opportune time to think about perspective-taking: Would you want to be given a new, challenging assignment when you’re ready to head out the door for a parent-teacher conference? Are you going to be fully present to think about the work project?


Where and how should also be considered. Is your office the best place to have a conversation, or is a coffee shop where there is less of a chance of being interrupted more desirable? Should you be meeting with your direct report, or is an email sufficient or even preferable?

Why is at the heart of all leadership communication. Are you having the conversation to build a better relationship with your direct report? Are you sharing information?

Each italicized word of the following sentence, Why are you telling me this now? refers to one of the questions above that are so critical to effective communication. Before scheduling a meeting, drafting an email, or picking up the phone, make sure you have the answers to those questions. It’ll make you a more effective manager, and an all-around better communicator.

Learn more by taking a look inside “Develop Management Skills With the ACCEL Model.”

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