I’ve written many times about the importance of managers working with each direct report to set smart goals, to praise progress and goal achievement, and to redirect when performance is falling short. In our new First-time Manager program, we train managers how to have conversations around these three secrets—goal setting, praising, and redirecting—from my book with Spencer Johnson, The New One Minute Manager®. We also introduce the importance of a fourth conversation—the wrapping up conversation.
The wrapping up conversation happens at the completion of a task or project. It offers the opportunity for a manager to celebrate a direct report’s accomplishment as well as new knowledge or skills gained during the process. It is also a good time to discuss what could be improved in the future. This kind of conversation allows both manager and direct report to review and honor the work that has been accomplished before moving on to the next project or goal. When I have a wrapping-up conversation with members of my team, I see them become more energized and engaged.
The manager begins this conversation by endorsing the other person and celebrating their achievement. Then the two openly talk about anything that could have been handled differently, discussing how the direct report feels about the goal or project, results that were accomplished, and the impact of the project on the department or company. The manager documents any key learnings or areas for improvement, and always ends the conversation with another endorsement for a job well done.
At the quick pace of business today, when people are jumping from one project to another or juggling several at once, it’s easy for the wrapping up conversation to be put off—sometimes indefinitely. However, taking time to reflect on a project provides another occasion for a manager to improve their relationship with a team member. Every conversation is crucial when developing a nurturing, trusting work environment.
I’d like to know what kind of conversations you are having with your direct reports. Are you consistently having conversations to set goals? Do you praise people for a job well done and redirect them when necessary? Do you have a conversation at the end of a project to honor the work? Share your comments below to let me know what kind of conversations are the most useful to you and your staff.