Conversations That Matter Podcast: The Power of Manager Conversations

Learn how to boost Employee Engagement. OpenBlend Podcast: 5 key conversations managers need to have. Learn from Gallup's MD, EMEA, Claire Decarteret.

OpenBlend Podcast Series: Conversations that matter

Episode 1: Claire De Carteret, Gallup 

Founded in 1935 by George Gallup, Gallup is a world-renowned analytics and advisory company based in Washington, D.C. They are known for their public opinion polls conducted worldwide, and for their CliftonStrengths assessment, which has been taken by over 30 million people across the globe. 

To kick off our new 'Conversations that matter' podcast series, OpenBlend's CEO and Founder Anna Rasmussen sat down with Claire De Carteret, Managing Director EMEA at Gallup to discuss the data behind their extensive research into the five types of conversations managers should be having with their employees. 

Gallup has developed a practical framework for managers, which includes five different coaching conversations, and how and when to be having them. In this episode, Claire talks us through the thinking behind the research, what each of the five conversations looks like, and the results they've seen when organisations and managers execute these conversations correctly. 


‘What we've seen is through the pandemic, it's really catalysed this focus on wellbeing, this focus on really sustainable, healthy and thriving workplace cultures, because leaders know that this impacts the bottom line, and it impacts customers.’

Below we pulled out some of our favourite parts of the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode and look forward to you joining us for the next one.

What do you find most important about your role?

I guess what is most important to me, and my role is really studying excellence, studying excellence in organisations, excellence in people, and what makes individuals, teams, companies and organisations thrive. I fundamentally believe that work can be net positive or net negative, and as leaders, we have this responsibility to make sure it's net positive, it's a pretty miserable time in your life, if you hate going to work, and it's not serving you or boosting you, and that cascades to your family, and the way you show up in other areas of your life. So I think this is something that's really important, and just on that the organisations that do this really well, they have better results, so it's not just about creating happy workplaces, it's about creating happy workplaces that actually are winning, that performing and getting the results.

Could you tell us more about the motivation behind Gallup's research that lead to the discovery of these five types of conversations that managers should be having?

So over the last decades, we've been studying engagement at the organisational level and at the country level. We produce every year a 'State of the global workplace' report, studying what makes people thrive at work, what separates some organisations from others when it comes to performance and engagement.

One of the most fascinating pieces of data that emerged from the last decade of our research, is that when we look at engagement, and this is engagement as we define it because there are many different definitions of engagement out there, but we define it as the emotional connection that employees have with the workplace, emotional and psychological. It's different to rational satisfaction, it's really is an emotional effort that elicits people to give discretionary effort to think of better ways of doing things to innovate.

So we've been studying this for decades, when we started to look at it, we noticed one thing - that in every organisation, there were work groups with really high engagement, and there were work groups with low or mediocre engagement. When we looked a little bit further, we started aligning the work groups up to understand what we call microcultures. What was that variation? What caused that variation? And our biggest finding was that it was the manager. So we've even got a book called, it's the manager for that exact reason that the biggest variation in any organisation when it comes to employee experience, employee engagement, was the manager. So it wasn't which team is that in which geographical location, It was the local manager. So we dug even deeper into that to understand well, what was it that these exceptional managers did differently to the rest.

and that's when we dug down and we said to our senior scientists, what, what is it that they're doing differently? And through the data, it appeared that they were having the right kind of conversations. To quantify it really simply, they were having at least one meaningful conversation a week. 

What can organisations do to support managers to enable them to create this cadence of consistent conversations with their people?

First of all, every manager has a manager, so managers of managers need to be role modelling those conversations, so even the very top leaders are probably also managers so they have their own direct reports, if it starts there, it becomes a routine in the organisation it becomes a habit, people gain a fluency around it, that’s really important, and then that allows those managers to feel, seen cared for, supported.

The second thing is a lot of people managers end up becoming people managers either because they’ve been around a while, or they’ve been really good individual contributors, so they get promoted to people manager, but then suddenly they’re in a managerial role, and they’re not really given the scaffolding and support they require, so its that capability boost that’s required some kind of training, support some tools that are accessible for managers to use so that really, managers see the importance of managing outcomes through the engagement of their team, through their teams being thriving and energised and engaged they will get the results not another thing that I have to do, but something that if I do this, will get the results so it’s some training and some development that includes really clever, simple tools and then it’s about really clearing the way for accountability for those conversations to happen.

You can listen to the full episode, and past episodes, over at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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