How to transform your conversation cycle

A leader. An employee. And a conversation between both. Although the elements are clear as day, hundreds of variants are conceivable in the execution of the conversation cycle. And the more managers and employees within your organisation, the more difficult it is for HR to keep a grip on the content of those conversations. How do you ensure that the development of the employee is central? And how do you make agreements about the learning path they take? We sat down and asked two organisations that have been working with GoodHabitz for quite some time. Let's start by hearing from the Municipality of Bladel in the Netherlands.

by integrating personal growth

A turnaround has been going on for a number of years. We have always known the traditional interview cycle, in which a manager and an employee have a meeting at fixed times of the year: the mid-year performance review interview in the summer and/or the annual reviewa around the New Year. Traditional but not outdated, this is still the standard in many organizations. But a second cycle is on the rise under the heading of ‘modern performance management’. The biggest difference? The direction does not lie with the manager, but with the employee.

From fixed to flexible

The Municipality of Bladel came to the conclusion last year that the structure of traditional converations, performance and assessment interviews (the OFB cycle) was no longer optimal. “It took a lot of time and energy for managers,” says department Head of Services and Operations Miranda van Camp. “While the yield was limited. That is why we decided to switch to "The Good Conversation": a flexible method in which you abandon the standard conversation moments and the employee determines when development conversations - at least one per year - take place. "

Conversations are scheduled for necessity: there is something going on that the employee wants to talk about.

Miranda van Camp Municipality of Bladel

Timing and content: the employee decides

The way of shifting the conversation allows for the employee to schedule a conversation when they have a sense of urgency to discuss a topic, providing much more flexibility. Not only can they choose when they want to speak, but also what they want to speak about. How does the employee determine the agenda items? “On the basis of a talk card”, says Miranda. “That talk card contains various topics that the employee can address. You see that conversations are now often scheduled for a certain need: there is something going on that the employee wants to talk about. This leads to a more substantive conversation. And if that employee needs a meeting again a month later, the space is there.”

Peace and space

It makes sense to talk about personal development when the situation calls for it. The traditional conversation cycle has a certain connotation: between the Christmas turkey and the New Year's celebration, you as an employee get to hear what your manager thinks of your performance over the past year, which could possibly either make or break your holiday. Modern performance management turns it around, says Miranda. “For example, you plan your meeting just after the completion of a major project, so that you can look back on your role in this together with your manager. Many of our employees do it this way, precisely because at such a moment you also feel the peace and space to have "The Good Conversation". You react faster, because you have a conversation when you have a topic of conversation.”

The talk card

So it's about content, to understand what is going on with the employee and how it can help with their growth. The Municipality of Bladel has had its own 'talk card' developed, which the employee fills in themselves in preparation for the conversation. Miranda noted that, “Various topics are discussed in the chat card. For example, we are curious about the "energy providers" and "energy consumers" of an employee and his or her dot on the horizon. Other questions can be answered with the smiley meter: how is your work-life balance, for example, and does your work suit you? This is valuable input to go deeper into during The Good Conversation. It ensures that all relevant competencies are reviewed during the interview.”

It gives more freedom. Employees appreciate that.

Miranda van Camp Municipality of Bladel

From controlling to coaching

Goals and agreements are written down in a dynamic conversation form. Not only are the objectives, points for development and agreements recorded after each meeting, but the employee also makes notes throughout the year. “Sometimes an objective arises after an intermezzo at the coffee machine. The employee can then add this immediately. The role of the manager is more focused on coaching than on control. He or she does; however, ensure that the training options are discussed regularly: on the basis of GoodHabitz's personal action plan, not only are the points for development defined, but the manager and employee also immediately translate this into a specific training. In the overview, the employee immediately sees which training courses can help him or her. And of course agreements are made about this immediately.”

More freedom

A flexible conversation cycle with the employee at the helm How do managers respond to modern performance management? “Good with us”, says Miranda. "We are a small organisation, so it is a bit easier to" get everyone along ". And what about employees? “They also respond positively. They have a little more freedom and appreciate it. This also has to do with our personnel policy: we select new employees based on ownership and sense of responsibility. Supposedly, this flexible conversation cycle is a perfect fit for our staff.”

For those who do not know… what is The Good Conversation?

In The Good Conversation, the emphasis is on equality, empathy and real listening. All kinds of topics are discussed during this meeting, but points of topic are the responsibility of the employee. The interview is not scheduled at a fixed time, but can take place at any time, in any place and on everyone's initiative (including the manager, but the initiative usually lies with the employee). As a result, there is continuous feedback, and the role of the manager is more focused on coaching than on control. The manager ensures that The Good Conversation takes place at least once a year.

This was the first part of a diptych. Soon Eline van der Voort will talk about the Growth and Ambition Cycle of Koninklijke Visio. To stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter.

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