Advisors often tell us they’d like their assistants to do additional tasks or do something differently. Similarly, assistants often want their advisors to change something.
And since people don’t like confrontation, they don’t say anything. That can lead to lower productivity and resentment in the workplace.
One exercise that can help people speak more openly is called Continue/Stop/Start (CSS).
Here’s how it works:
- Each team member takes time to assess the issues impacting their work relationships. Each records two or three things he/she would like the other person to Continue doing, Stop doing and Start doing.
- In a face-to-face session, each person reads the observations aloud. The receiving party cannot respond until the sender completes his or her observations. Responses should only clarify — not disagree or defend.
- The process is then reversed: the sender becomes the receiver and vice versa.
- The two people discuss how to address these concerns and set a date to review the progress of that plan.
CSS is a simple formula you can use in any aspect of your business — to communicate better with your team, give feedback, resolve conflicts, perform a performance appraisal or clarify your business goals. A coach can help facilitate the sharing session and provide input into the action plans.
Some “continues” we’ve heard: continue holding weekly team meetings; continue commenting on what I’ve done well; continue dictating notes after a client meeting.
Some “starts” we’ve heard: start believing in yourself and what you are capable of doing; start delegating more tasks to others; start prioritizing the projects.
Some “stops” we’ve heard: stop adding new projects every day (in addition to current ones); stop arriving late to meetings; and stop micro managing projects.
The real value of CSS is increased openness. Many people need a little help when it comes to communicating with others, especially if there is some conflict.
Offering your team this simple technique is a tangible way to promote respectful and effective communication.