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5 Coaching Conversations (Part 2): The Quick Connect

5 Coaching Conversations (Part 2): The Quick Connect

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 14
  • Discover Gallup's approach to performance management and the second of 5 Coaching Conversations between managers and employees that can build trust and foster engagement.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Paul Walters, Workplace Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Paul shared about Gallup's approach to performance management. That approach involves investing in people as individuals, including the second of 5 Coaching Conversations managers should have with their employees -- the Quick Connect -- in order to build trust, help them connect with their team's and organization's mission, and foster workplace engagement.

Access Part 1 of 5 Coaching Conversations, and Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of this 5-part series.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

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Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 12, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:19

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. If you haven't done that, there's a link right above me; get in the chat room, get that done. If you're listening after the fact, send us your questions via email. Just send them to Don't forget to subscribe if you're watching on YouTube. And if you want to listen to us as a podcast, just search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast player. Paul Walters is our host today. Paul is a Workplace Consultant at Gallup. Paul, great to see you. Welcome back to Part 2!

Paul Walters 0:53

Thanks. Happy to be here, Jim.

Jim Collison 0:54

Good to have you. Let's do a quick review on Part 1, and then let's dive into the second coaching conversation.

Paul Walters 1:00

Absolutely. So Part 1, we talked about traditional performance review systems and why they're not working. Well actually, we gave a history of them first, where they came from. And then we talked about the traditional performance review systems, the problems with them, and why a lot of companies are moving away from that traditional system, just because, again, the whole point of them is to improve performance. And we're not actually seeing that that's accomplished through doing that, that system.

Paul Walters 1:27

So what we're recommending people do is shift from what you would call the performance management to what we call performance development, which is incorporating really development and coaching in all aspects of, of your interactions with your people. So a couple things around performance development. I talked about before. The framework behind it is really, I said -- mentioned it like a pie, if you were listening to Part 1. That framework is "Establish Expectations," "Continually Coach," and "Create Accountability." Within that framework, were our 5 Conversations, and those are: Role and Relationship Orientation, the Quick Connect, the Check-In, Developmental Coaching, and Progress Review.

Paul Walters 2:07

And what we covered in the last, in Part 1, was the Role and Relationship Orientation part in the "Establish Expectations bucket, or part of the framework. And now we're going to move on to the Quick Connect, which falls into that continual component -- "Continually Coach" part of the framework. So ...

Jim Collison 2:27

Paul, let me give you a second to breathe for just a second.

Paul Walters 2:28

Yeah, thank you.

Jim Collison 2:30

Let me just say, the Quick Connect here at Gallup has become the, the kind of the go-to -- we, we -- that term, I never heard that term until we started talking about it this way. And we say it all the time here at Gallup. It has become part of our vernacular and the things we say. And, and we say it even like, "Hey, I need, I just need a quick connect." It's just become, like, it has become so ingrained in what we do. I think, while this may be the shortest in nature, it's also the most effective. So I'm excited to hear from -- because I think it's the most powerful. Tell us a little bit more about what it is.

Paul Walters 3:02

Yeah, I think, I think you're right. So again, that, that Quick Connect component falls into what we call the "Continually Coach" bucket. What we found is 47% of employees report having received feedback from their managers a few times a year, or less often in the past year. 19% -- so almost 20% of employees --received feedback from their managers once a year or less. But we're going to see that that Quick Connect is very different than that type of structure. But what we're finding in general is just managers are not having very many conversations with their people. So they have to move from this mindset of a boss to a coach.

Paul Walters 3:39

When I think of performance, it's not this episodic thing, right? It's not like it's one-time thing. It's ongoing. You're constantly performing. Expectations might be changing. Everybody has development needs. So the, the idea behind continually coaching is you're in constant conversation with your people to help set performance objectives, to continue to develop them and really to foster an organic, authentic relationship with them. What we would say is frequency actually matters a lot. But frequency without purpose, I think is a fool's errand. Right. You -- the idea is that you should have some individualization to these conversations. They should be purposeful in what they're trying to achieve.

Jim Collison 4:23

Yeah. And maybe not confused with, with direction or, you know, operational, like, this is not an operation, "Hey, I need you to do this." Right. That's not a Quick Connect, right? We'll see how that's different.

Paul Walters 4:37

Yeah. So I think you're right. So I think it's being careful that when you're thinking about OK, well, I'm going to increase the frequency of my conversations with my people. That means I'm just going to tell them what to do more often. You also have to guard against them feeling micromanaged when you do that. Coaching discuss -- discussions should be substantive with purpose, without leaving the employee feeling like they've been micromanaged.

Paul Walters 5:04

So how do you have effective coaching conversations? We have sort of 3 buckets, the 3 parts of the, parts of the continuing coaching framework. So one of them is the frequency. And then the second one is focus. And the third one is future-oriented. When I think of "frequent," essentially, that means, We want you talking to your people more often. What we've actually found is that the highest level of engagement, and the most engaging managers in the world, interact with their employees daily, using different modes of communication. And I'll talk about why that's actually possible. Some, some people think, Oh my gosh, I have to have a one-on-one meeting with my people every single day. I don't have time to do that. We're not saying that, but having some type of touchpoint with them, more often than not, frequency actually matters a lot.

Paul Walters 5:54

The next one is the "focus" part. And that's what I talked about a little bit already, that there should be some purpose. So when you're having a conversation with someone stating the purpose, the outcome, and then at the end of understanding, do we have mutual understanding about where we're going and next steps, focusing on their needs. And, like you said, Jim, not just on task expectations, but their emotional needs as an employee, right, or even some of their physical needs in their workspace. So focusing on that component of who they are. And then, I think when you have focused conversations, that can actually guard against competing priorities, because it helps me think through, what do I need to be turning my attention to now versus this other extra noise going on around me?

Paul Walters 6:39

And then that third component is what we call "future-oriented." I think, oftentimes, we're so quick to talk about the past performance of an employee, and not that there's no value in that, but the employee can't change what they did in the past. And so if you're just talking about my path without a clear direction forward, that's demotivating for me. So when I think of great coaching conversations, they're future oriented; they have a positive component to them, where people are thinking about being at their best going forward; how to be at their best in the future. It also helps them thinking about planning and proactively learning about where they're going to go and those future expectations of all that.

Paul Walters 7:22

So again, when I think of continually coaching, it's those, those components of frequently -- frequent, focused and future-oriented, which all tie into the Quick Connect conversation that we're really here to talk about. So, as you mentioned, Jim, this is a, I think, a favorite conversation at Gallup. We use this lingo all the time. I think of a -- the purpose of a Quick Connect is to have a quick touchpoint with your employee. Check in, are -- what are they working on? What barriers do they have right now? Is there something I can help you with? It's really meant to be a support to them, versus a punitive thing. It's not, "Hey, are you doing your work?" It's, "Is there something getting in your way of being successful today? If there is, how can I help remove that for you?"

Paul Walters 8:15

Another purpose of the Quick Connect is building a relationship with someone. So I think it's OK to say, "Hey, tell me about your evening last night. Did you have a good evening? Everything good? What are you working on today? Good, great. Have a great day. Let me know if you need anything. I'll be here all day." That's all it is. It can be a text message. It can be a message on Skype or Microsoft Teams or a quick email. One good strategy I think about is what people have heard of, or they call "management by movement." I think about when I was a manager of a health facility back in 2005. I had a program that had I had about 12 or 15 people reporting to me. I'd walk into the building; I'd throw my bag on the floor. And the first thing I would do before I even set up my laptop is I would just do a round. I'd go around, I'd talk to every single, every single one of my employees. Not, not all of them were on the shift at the same time. But there were usually 3 to 5. And I would just check in, "Carmen, how you doing? What are you, what are you working on? Anything you need from me?"

Paul Walters 9:23

It was just a quick "touch base" to let them know I was here. I'm here to support them. If there's something they need, I want to, I want them to know that I care about them. If there's barriers to them getting the job done, getting the job done right, I'm there to help remove those barriers. And if I got there and I saw they were struggling with X, Y or Z, I jumped right in, right? By, by being there on site and seeing them, I knew when I needed to step up to show them that I actually cared about them, and I wanted to help them out; wanted them to be successful.

Jim Collison 9:56

Paul, such a great example, and can be done the opposite way, where managers make themselves available to the individuals on their team. So instead of them moving around, they are in one place where they know that it's OK to come and get access to. And then, and then, they're available. I spend a lot of time in the atrium in the mornings, it's -- I get my Quick Connect with the folks that I'm working with. If they need me, they'll come by -- they know where to find me. So a lot of times, if they're trying to track me down, they can -- and that's OK, right? That as a manager, it needs to be, I say, No, I want you. I'm here because I want you to stop by.

Paul Walters 10:29

Yeah, yeah, and I think absolutely. I would add one caveat to that. And I think that's sort of a unique situation. Sometimes what happens is managers say, Hey, my people know I have an open-door policy. So if they need something, they can swing in. That's true, but you also have to be proactive with your people. You have to get out there because oftentimes, you might have that person who's a little bit more introverted. Maybe they've got their own stuff they're dealing with that day, and they just don't feel like talking to the manager, to the person. So that's why yes, I think doing that is exactly what people need to be doing. But also getting out there and, and talking with them.

Jim Collison 11:11

Yeah. And knowing the difference between the two. Some employees may need a Quick Connect every day. Right? They just need it. They may need it a couple times a day. Where, where others may not need it, maybe it -- maybe on a weekly basis. Right? You said the key, in the very beginning, is, is increased frequency. We know it's not happening enough in most cases. And there's always going to be edge cases, but in most cases, it could happen more.

Paul Walters 11:34

Yeah. And, and really, it's not something that's meant to take very long, right? It's, it's literally, it can be 1 minute long. Right. That's, and that's what it is. And as you said, some people may want it every day. Some people maybe want it once a week. We recommend at least doing something like this once a week, again to help people feel like they're, they're cared about. But it really helps to build that relationship between the employee and manager, and identify those barriers that might be getting in the way of their success.

Jim Collison 12:03

Just some chat, some questions in the chat room about, you know, Hey, if you're coming around and you're trying to poke, poke into my work during the middle of the day, that throws off my flow. OK, as a manager, I'm now going to try and hit you first thing in the morning, or the last thing at the end of the day, right? It's individualizing those cases of -- it doesn't necessarily mean the best practice is just to walk around tap people on the shoulder right during the middle of the day. If that's -- for some people, that's great; for other people, it's not. As a manager, I need to know that, and then I need to position myself to be there when an employee comes in, or to be there when that employee goes out and have those conversations.

Paul Walters 12:36

And you said a, you said a key thing there that really distinguishes great managers from the rest of the pack. And that's that individualization piece, that great managers individualize their approach to whomever they're speaking with. So I know, Jim, I could probably roll into your office at any time and you'd be fine to chit chat. I know there are other people on our team who maybe are high Focus, high Discipline, Achiever, whatever. If they're locked in on their work, me going in there is actually disruptive. So I'm not going to ping them that way. I'm not going to -- maybe it's a, it's an email saying, Hey, I'm just checking in on you. When you get a chance to respond, let me know if there's anything I can do with you. Right. So it's communicating with them in a way that resonates for them and a frequency that resonates for them by individualizing your approach.

Jim Collison 13:21

Right on. Paul, anything else before we wrap it up?

Paul Walters 13:24

I think we're good. No, I appreciate that.

Jim Collison 13:26

Yeah, I think a great conversation. And I do think it comes down to the individualization on all of these as we -- just a great reminder, we've come up with some, we know some, some data and some stats and we can give best practices. But of course, it's a manager's role in this to really individualize and make sure, is it -- am I getting the max productivity out of, you know, that person by doing it in a way that they want it to be done? So Paul, thanks for doing that as well.

Jim Collison 13:51

With that --

Paul Walters 13:51

Appreciate it.

Jim Collison 13:52

You bet -- with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available. Mentioned a few here in the program. If you have, if you want to see where they're at, just head out to our website: We've got tons of strengths-related -- if you go to in our Workplace section, we have even more that's available; a lot of great stuff around performance management and our employee engagement, out on our site: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletters while you are there. We have a few of them out there and available for you, if you want to sign up for those. Usually send those on a monthly basis. If you have any questions on anything, send us an email: You can follow our live events on our event by -- Eventbrite page. Go to Join us on Facebook: And on LinkedIn, just search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." You don't have to be a trained coach to be there. Just let me know and I'll let you in. I want to thank you for joining us. If you're on Part 2, we maybe have done Part 3. So keep listening on. And if you missed it, go back and see Part 1. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Paul Walters' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Communication, Arranger, Competition and Woo.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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