An Engagement Technique for Exponential Leaders: Ambition Talks




  • — April 18, 2018

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    When you’re aggressively chasing targets and working at extraordinary speeds to meet deadlines it’s easy to get caught up and forget the little things that matter. And what matters for you as an exponential leader is to continuously have the support of a dedicated and aligned workforce. However, when you’re pushing as hard as possible, draining your team to perform at exceptional levels, dedication and alignment can go awry. This is why having frequent ambition talks is paramount.

    What are ambition talks? These are frequent conversations you have with the people who matter to you, your company, and your leadership. They aren’t necessarily the lengthy, often draining, conversations you have with your team at the end of the year or during other review cycles. Instead, they’re short (maybe 15-20 minutes) talks to re-engage and reconnect with your people. Having ambition talks is just the anecdote to keep your key personnel engaged, motivated, retained and aligned with the goals of the business.

    Ambition talks aren’t about daily operations or behaviors. The conversation is about everything aside from what they’re currently doing. It’s about the bigger picture and how their contributions matter. Where their careers are headed towards and how they’ll play a bigger role in the company’s success.

    By calling it ambition talks you send out one simple message to your team – the conversation is about them. It’s not about the company or the customers and neither is it about the department. It’s about each and every member of your team. It’s about their development and growth. It’s about their aspirations, their goals and dreams, their career development and their path to get to where they want to be. The general idea and theme of these meetings is to focus on the most important part of your business – your team!

    How do you make sure all ambition talks are effective and impactful? Well, first of all, make sure you assign a fixed day of the month for each of your team members. After you’ve established that, here are some guidelines you can follow to make sure you stay on track.

    Prior Preparation

    A day before you have your one of your ambition talks with a team member, drop them a quick email about what topics you’ll be discussing. Make sure you review any previous notes that you took so you’re not missing out on something important. End your email by giving them the opportunity to bring forward matters they’d like to discuss so that the meeting doesn’t appear one-sided.

    Avoid Ambiguity

    When you kick start these ambition talks there’s a good chance your team will feel as if this is one of those counseling and correctional meetings. From the moment you get into these conversations make it absolutely clear that the focus is (and will always remain) on their career aspirations and development (and nothing else). From there, make sure you pick up where you left of from previous ambition talks so that they know how serious you are about developing them.

    Hear Them Out

    Sure you have all the plans in the world for your company and your team members, however, if you’re heading into ambition talks with a ‘set agenda’ you won’t be able to engage your team much. Listen to them. Hear them out and see what they have to offer. What ideas do they have and what aspirations do they strive for? What motivates them? By listening to them you’ll be in a better position to support and encourage them.

    Make a Plan

    Roadmaps are essential when you’re trying to get somewhere. Without roadmaps ambition talks are pretty much useless and pointless. Whatever you discuss, whatever plans you make and whatever direction you mutually agree upon, put it all together into a plan that has timelines and milestones. This makes it easier to track progressive and can alert you on where tweaks may be needed.

    Stay Focused

    I understand you’re busy and that you can be interrupted during your important ambition talks, however, consider the impact it has on your team members. If you were to answer your phone or make eye contact with someone who’s passing by your office do you really think your team member will feel it’s about them? The sole idea of ambition talks is to stay focused on your team members. So, stay focused!

    Generate Positivity

    Positivity is key in ambition talks. It’s the only way you’ll encourage, motivate and engage your team members. Hence, in everything you say, every point you make and every plan you chalk out, make sure it’s full of positivity!

    If you were to keep the theme in mind every time you step into an ambition talks meeting you’ll walk out with a highly engaged and motivated workforce. A workforce that feels important, valued and essential to the company.

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    Author: Paul Keijzer

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