One of the interesting things about working in leadership is how it is perceived as a BIG subject. Ask 10 people what leadership means, you’ll most likely get nine different answers.
Leadership can cast a long shadow and make some people think, ‘I can’t lead’. Conversely, and I’ve seen this, there are leaders who think they can lead, but can’t! Working in leadership I understand the elements that go to make good managers. What’s interesting is how small elements can really go a long way.
Small talk is actually big talk.
What many leaders want to do (but find hard), is to connect and build trust with their team. Team members themselves tend to value direction, being seen as an individual and receiving compassionate support. A good way for relationships to be forged and connections achieved is through daily small talk.
Small talk, though dreaded by some, helps to build trust between a manager and a team member. Small talks can create a safe environment for people to be able to express themselves, without fear, in the workplace. Here are some examples of what small talk ‘in action’ is about:
- Learning about family, interests, hobbies, past achievements, work roles and future hopes and aspirations.
- Shining-a-light on areas of common interest e.g. football, holidays or music.
- Linking small talk moments. What’s been happening since I last saw you? How did your son/daughter do in their exam?
- Discovering if there is anything you can help a team member with?
Small talk is also known as check-ins. Check-in with a member of the team and ask how they are. The past year has changed the dynamic of check-ins completely. Leaders have not been able to walk through the office, they have needed to adapt their small talk skills to the virtual environment. In the first lockdown this was a challenge, but it got better as people became more familiar with Zoom etc. What the past year hasn’t done is take away the positive impact on mood that a small personal conversation can have.
The art of small talk
Face-to-face or not, for small talk to be effective it must be authentic and applied consistently. Small talk is nothing without active listening. The trust piece only grows when the small talk is two way and builds on previous interactions. When applied in this way, the little conversations aggregate and can help grow trust in a BIG way. When you have earned trust and respect in a group environment the potential of what can be achieved together is enormous.
Small talk is one technique to help build effective teams. To discuss improving team performance in your company contact Dominique or call 07703 564451.