Last year, I designed a Team Development Program for Inkmason, Beijing "From Strive to Stride", and one of the topics was about How to talk with your team member. It sounds like a very basic day to day communication skill, but a lot of managers and leaders find it difficult to start a conversation when he/she needs to coach a team member in a project or a task : How do you build up a trusting, human relationship, in a business-to-business context? What kind of questions should I ask? What to say first?
Then we created a list of questions based on "Levels of communication" by Eric Berne. It is actually a six levels (five levels in our version) communication framework for building TRUST.
Level One - Getting acquainted
- How are you today?
- Everything OK?
- Do you have any question to me?
- Can I help you?
>> Let's talk about it.
Level Two - Sharing of facts
- Tell me what happen.
- Walk me through the steps.
- What is the status now?
- Tell me how you did it.
- Tell me about your challenge or difficulty.
>> I understand the situation and process now, thank you for sharing with me.
Level Three - Sharing of ideas
- What is your idea?
- What is the risk?
- What do you need now? - How should I support you?
- What is the next step now?
- What made us success/fail? Why?
- What did you learn?
- How should we do next time?
>> Thank you for letting me know your ideas and concerns, it is important for both of us to understand the situation in the same way.
Level Four - Sharing of emotions
- How do you feel about it?
- Why is it important to you? (Why you care about it)
- What do you think people will feel about it?
- What brings you to this stage?
- How should I (and/or the team) do more to support you?
>> It is important for me know how you feel about this, thank you for your honesty.
Level Five - Rapport
- We have mutual understanding
- We have consensus now
>> Thank you for your trust!
We actually designed a toolset for this communication framework, and the team called it "Communication Bible". It's a step by step process with all the questions listed in each card, and managers and team members use the cards to create business dialog. They can actually place the 5 level cards at 5 different places in order to create 5 conversation concerns, and when they complete one level conversation, they can physically move to the "next level". Managers and leaders can have daily individual catch up with team members, or use the toolset as weekly or monthly team building activity.