Open Communication? Try Coffee Talks

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Open Communication? Try Coffee Talks
Geoffrey Athey, Director, United States

I my view, the main problem with annual performance evaluations is the lack of open honest communication. I have found that having regular open conversations throughout the year is paramount.
I try to accomplish this through near monthly 'coffee talks' with everyone who reports to me and everyone who reports to them.
I give each person a week or so notice and ask them to send me a meeting request that fits both our schedules.
These coffee talks always happen away from our normal work area and are generally positive, though not always.
Over time, as we get to know each other, team members seem to look forward to their turn. They save ideas to talk to me about. They get used to me asking probing questions. And, most importantly of all, as long as I maintain the moral courage to be truly honest, the annual performance evaluation becomes a mere formality.
Funny thing is, I don’t even like coffee.

Great for Open Communication
Jo Keown, Analyst, Australia
I like your style Geoffrey. Your monthly coffee chats are a fantastic idea as very often we all get too busy, therefore, put off following up on issues that are not directly related to the most immediate tasks on hand. A monthly chat provides a semi-structured forum where issues (both large & small) can be discussed and resolved.
Negative feedback can also be positively approached by using expressions like "you could try..." or "explore xyz..." etc. That way openness can be preserved, therefore, the moral courage is also intact.

Monthly Coffee Talks
Tim Boykin, Management Consultant, United States
Excellent name. I will use it.
I usually send a follow-up note with a recap of our conversation along with my appreciation for the persons input. This serves as a great reinforcer and provides notes for the more formal mid year discussion.
I don't currently have regularly scheduled talks, so I think to have it monthly and put a little structure to it instead of doing it 'in my spare time' is also brilliant.
In my 25 years as a manager, it has been suggested to me many times, and now it finally sunk in! Thank you.

Friendly Coffee Talks
Tamer Ragheb, Financial Consultant, Egypt
Coffee talks is a good friendly technique to get to know people you work with more using a friendly atmosphere.
It also opens trust between people and could help in sending feedbacks and massages you want to deliver to the staff in an easy way. I like the idea..


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