Successful conversations have an architecture!

1) Check the situation: Is the time favourable?

2) Stake out the framework: What is it about? What is negotiable and what is not?

3) Finding solutions at eye level

But let's start from the beginning:

Anyone who raises a problem with an employee often does so in the following pattern:

The manager has analysed the problem and presents the solution. No matter how perfect the solution is - it's a shame! Because the employee is most likely not open to the solution. 

If you proceed as described above, the manager talks and talks. And those who talk learn nothing. Those who talk have no idea how their vis-à-vis is doing. 

A solution only falls on fertile ground if the recipient is willing and interested.

In the above variant, the recipient is overwhelmed by the flood of information!

How often do you ask yourself these or similar questions? How often do you really mean it? If you want real willingness from the recipient, it would be a mistake not to start like this or something similar. Of course, the above answer would mean that better conditions would be sought first. 

How can you find the solution if you don't see the same problem? A common understanding of the problem is a prerequisite for the next step. This is often met with defence and justification (not me, the others too!)

If these two framework conditions are set: (1. Problem is clear, 2. It's about your solution contribution), you can discuss possible solutions. Restraint helps here. Logically, as a manager you often have a proposed solution in mind. But suggestions are blows! Ideally, the employee's own proposed solution is simply used to ask skilful questions and check the employee's proposed solutions.

A 75% solution from the employee will work more sustainably than the (imposed) 100% solution from the boss.

The rest is standard: save results, follow-up appointment, etc.

Further links

  • Why we should ask"How are you" more often
  • Giving feedback: Fact and emotion
  • Why such discussions should NOT be held by text message but in a direct dialogue: -> Email flood
    The speech bubbles in the article are merely intended to illustrate the dialogue.


Stefan Heer (2022)