Quality conversations in the workplace – the cornerstone to employee and business wellbeing

Wellbeing is a skill. It’s about how we feel about ourselves, our lives and how we cope with setbacks. Employers might wonder why they should care about the wellbeing of employees, is that not the employees’ responsibility? Whilst it is true that we are all ultimately responsible for taking care of our wellbeing, it is also true that workplace environmental factors play a key role, and these are the factors that employers can pay attention to, to support employees in maintaining their wellbeing. The fact that workplace wellbeing programmes are now a billion-dollar industry worldwide shows that many employers recognise the link between employee wellbeing and the wellbeing of their businesses.

One of my observations from working as an Executive Coach is that the avoidance of quality conversations in organisations is a key contributor to unhealthy work cultures. This avoidance stems from the assumption that such conversations will lead to conflict. However, this is only true if people do not have skills to hold these conversations effectively. What is also true is that the need for difficult conversations will be reduced if better quality conversations are happening in the first place.

A quality conversation is one in which all parties feel heard, there is a shared understanding of areas of agreement and areas of disagreement (that’s right, it’s not necessarily about reaching consensus), there is a shared understanding of what needs to be done, when and how, who is responsible, and the risks to the business of not meeting quality standards. These conversation principles apply to all workplace activities, whether it is about how the phone is answered, how client records are maintained or how client cases are managed.

The core skills of quality conversations are coaching skills.

Developing a culture of quality coaching conversations teaches people to actively listen to each other. Imagine a work environment where people have conversations that are focused are listening rather than speaking, where conversations are about building shared understanding so that employees can learn and grow, problems are solved collaboratively, quality standards are achieved and a mind-set of continuous learning and improvement are the norm.

It is an environment that facilitates stronger working relationships founded in trust, respect and support and that fosters real engagement between people – listening, hearing, curiosity and exploration, learning, growth, high quality and performance.