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Cut to the bottom line: 3 tips

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

To engage in effective coaching, you need to uncover the core issue to address. Otherwise, you’ll advise em­­ployees on extraneous matters while the most pressing issue gets ignored.

Individuals may not necessarily identify the paramount issue they need to resolve. In such cases, you must strike a balance between patient listening and directive prompts that help both of you cut to the bottom line.

If you’re dealing with a talkative em­ployee who doesn’t get to the point quickly, you may need to interrupt to save time. Here are three ways to cut in gracefully:

  1. If the speaker adopts a defensive tone, say, “I just need a bottom-line summary.”  This signals that the person need not repeat, “You’re not going to believe what happened. It’s not my fault.”
  2. If the speaker launches into a story, say, “What issue would you like to discuss?” Left on their own, your staff might give long, convoluted accounts of conflicts they’re experiencing with peers. Even if you wait for them to finish their stories, you may have no clue what bottom-line issue requires coaching.
  3. If the speaker presents a laundry list of problems, say, “In two or three sentences, what specific issues would you like to discuss?” This encourages the employee to prioritize.

Unlike talkative personalities who ramble, quiet employees may need time to articulate what’s on their minds. Don’t rush to interrupt introverts. Keep silent and maintain attentive body language to show that they can open up.

— Adapted from A Manager’s Guide To Coaching, Brian Emerson and Anne Loehr, AMACOM.

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