Lightbulb: how to have performance-transforming conversations

Lightbulb offers learning via bite-sized coaching pathways and tips that managers and their direct reports can use before, during and after their 1:1s. Find out more.

Lightbulb: how to have performance-transforming conversations

Introducing 'Lightbulb'

At OpenBlend, we’re proud to partner with progressive organisations that understand the value of great 1:1 conversations at work. They recognise the human element, they understand the need for an individual approach, they’ve worked hard to build the right mindset - and crucially, they’ve given their people the right tools for the job.

We define great 1:1s as ‘conversations that matter’. Conversations in which managers and employees can freely express their opinions, collaborate effectively, discuss goals - and when necessary, have difficult conversations that lead to the best possible outcomes.

Of course, not every manager and employee is confident in their ability to have these kinds of conversations. We’re talking about soft skills that need to be learned and developed over time. Formal training used to be the default solution here, but despite its obvious value, it’s no longer the only option.

Rather than traditional training alone, today’s learners are increasingly looking for combined learning experiences that complement formal training with on the job learning - and which crucially, enable knowledge to be put into immediate practice. Then there’s the fact we live in a global, digital, and hybrid world that sees managers and employees managing a myriad of new and complex challenges. It’s not always easy for people to take time away from work for classroom training, especially if it means travelling, being away from family, or returning to a heavy workload.

The new world of work calls for a hybrid approach to L&D - one that blends formal training with instant learning on the job.

💡 Lightbulb moments

That segues us nicely to Lightbulb - a brand-new module from OpenBlend. 

Lightbulb provides bite-sized learning content to improve the effectiveness of 1:1 conversations at work. It is uniquely designed to support the positive behavioural change that differentiates average conversations from highly effective ones. Lightbulb is all about building confidence and capability amongst managers and employees and enabling them to better prepare for their 1:1s.

By placing expert advice at the learner’s fingertips, Lightbulb empowers both managers and employees to consume useful tips in the moments before a 1:1 conversation. It provides access to the most relevant insights at the right time, shrinking the distance between learning and application so that knowledge can be consumed and put into practice immediately - and with maximum benefit.

The key thing to remember here is that regular 1:1 conversations will only move the dial if they’re effective. That means they need to be structured, focused, collaborative, underpinned by trust, and action-led. These are the defining elements of a great 1:1 conversation but we realise there’s a lot to factor in, and it’s not always easy.

Confidence comes from preparation

This is where preparation comes into play. People do not shy away from 1:1s due to a lack of interest but rather a lack of confidence and capability. Thankfully, preparing for conversations will not only remove much of the anxiety that creates this blocker but increase confidence too.

It’s that simple: managers and employees who feel prepared for a conversation will also feel more confident. They will have a better understanding of the situation; they’ve anticipated how the conversation might go; they’ve thought about what they’re going to say; they’re ready to talk; and they’re ready to listen.

This interdependent relationship between preparation and confidence is something that applies to almost every facet of our lives, whether it’s learning a new skill, improving at a chosen sport, or speaking in public. Good preparation is a common factor for success because it will improve outcomes every time.

To put this into context, research shows that 90% of the fear that people feel in relation to public speaking comes from inadequate preparation. That’s a huge percentage but it’s also an easy fix. All but 10% of the fear and anxiety that holds people back could be removed if they were just more prepared - and when it comes to having effective 1:1 conversations at work, we believe that learning on demand can increase preparedness tenfold.

The expanding scope of 1:1 conversations

It’s also important to look at this through the lens that is 2024. Managers and employees have weathered one storm after another in recent years. People’s needs, their wants, and their expectations have evolved and become more diverse, and naturally, this has also broadened the scope of 1:1 conversations.

It’s no longer enough to only talk about performance (and if you ask us, it never was). Gallup’s 2023 State of the Workplace Report tells us that employee stress is at a record high and in 2022, global survey from Microsoft revealed that half of employees (50%) and half of managers (53%) are experiencing burnout.

All the evidence tells us the same thing: we need to help managers and employees to talk about topics such as wellbeing, motivation, and personal circumstances.

The good news is that despite the challenging climate, the vast majority of managers still want to be great managers. They want to support their direct reports and enable them to perform. Likewise, employees want to achieve their goals and develop their careers. People have the best of intentions, they just need the right help, at the right time - and especially when it comes to navigating the broader conversations that support success.

Soft skills: the big opportunity for business

But this isn’t just hearsay. The criticality of soft skills development is ever-increasing and businesses that fall short can expect to pay a high price: a Harvard Business Review survey of executives in large organisations indicated that soft skills issues were costing them more than £115,000 every day. Ouch. 

Our own research tells a similar story: managers are less confident talking to their employees about informal issues such as work-life balance and wellbeing compared with more formal topics such as objective-setting and performance reviews. The process-driven stuff is less daunting because it’s structured and familiar. It’s the human stuff - the more sensitive, personal topics - that managers need help with. And guess what? Employees feel the same way: research shows that most employees are still not comfortable talking to their managers about issues such as mental health and stress

Surely that’s all the confirmation we need to realise that soft skills development presents one of the biggest - if not the biggest - opportunity for business right now. 

Expert coaching that builds capability

We’ve already mentioned that managers and employees want to do a good job. They just need an expert to guide and enlighten them - and that’s exactly why we’ve developed Lightbulb. We want to provide people with the knowledge they need to have really great conversations at work.

Coaching tips for great 1:1s But like everything we do at OpenBlend, we wanted to do it properly - and so we’ve also engaged expert help from Anna Wildman, the author of Now You’re Talking: The Manager’s Complete Handbook to Leading Great Conversations at Work. Anna’s approach to enabling great 1:1 conversations is strikingly similar to the one we live by at OpenBlend. So much so, that we couldn’t think of anyone better to provide the coaching tips and expert advice for Lightbulb.

Underpinned by Anna’s expert insights and actionable advice, Lightbulb covers all the bases when it comes to 1:1 conversations at work. So whatever your managers and employees need help with, be it delivering feedback, setting goals, talking about motivation, discussing progress, or raising a wellbeing issue - our latest module has all the tips and tricks to make these conversations both highly focused and highly effective.

Introducing Anna Wildman:

• Author of Now You’re Talking: The Manager’s Complete Handbook to Leading Great Conversations at Work

• Creator of the CEDAR™ collaborative feedback model, now being used worldwide

• Led KPMG’s global skills programme across 142 countries

• Led +300 multi-cultural ‘train the trainer’ workshops

• Former Chair of the CIPD performance management conference


How does Lightbulb work?

Now available via a module-based pathway, Lightbulb supports managers and employees in two ways:

  • Coaching pathways

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Lightbulb provides twelve coaching pathways, six for managers and six for employees, which cover the core topics that both parties talk about within OpenBlend. This includes performance goal-setting, feedback, motivation, wellbeing, development, and progress. Each pathway contains mini-learning modules that offer actionable advice on how best to approach specific conversation topics, how to frame and guide discussions in the best way, as well as challenges to consider, and plenty of other helpful resources.

  • Coaching tips

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These are the nuggets of knowledge that managers and employees can instantly tap into when they need help preparing for a 1:1. These actionable tips, which include relevant questions to ask, recommended structures, mini role plays, and even animations, can also be accessed from Microsoft Teams, Slack, and email so that learning 'in the moment' not only becomes highly valuable, but highly accessible within the user’s flow of work.

Lightbulb: your bitesize recap

We realise that’s a lot of information to take in, so let’s break it down into a quick recap. Here’s why Lightbulb is so brilliantly different (and we can’t wait for you to try it):

 ‘Just in time’ learning that improves the effectiveness of 1:1 conversations at work

 Helps managers and employees to prepare for 1:1s, building confidence and capability

 Purpose-built to create the positive behavioural change that differentiates average 1:1s from highly effective ones

 Shrinks the distance between learning and application so that knowledge can be consumed and put into practice immediately 

 Actionable, expert advice at the touch of a button

To learn more about Lightbulb, get in touch with the OpenBlend team or book your demo now.

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