Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.
Seem familiar?

You notice that once again Pete is not doing his job the way he should. Or, maybe you hear Jane speaking to a colleague in an inappropriate way. Then again, maybe you recognise that Kevin’s attitude is really starting to affect team morale. Whatever the situation, you realise that something needs to be said, and that you are the person responsible for saying it.

Have you ever had to have a ‘difficult’ conversation with a team member or colleague? Chances are that if you haven’t yet, the day will come—especially if you are in a leadership role.

Seem familiar?

You want to talk about a project, I want to focus on writing my report. You need to have an animated phone conversation, I need to think in silence. You like to eat apples while you work, I get annoyed by the sound of your chewing.

We are promised that open plan offices will help us to communicate and collaborate with colleagues. The reality can often be very different. 

 It’s not surprising really. You put any group of people together in close quarters with limited privacy day-after-day for hours at a time and what happens? There is the possibility of distraction and disruption resulting in irritation and frustration.

You might not be able to avoid the distraction and disruptions. What is possible is avoiding (or at least limiting) the irritation and frustration. But, to do that you need some skills.

One important skill to learn is how to let others know clearly and calmly what you do or do not want.

Try the STAR technique

STAR has its origins in behavioural job interviewing, but you can adapt it to everyday work situations.

STAR stands for Situation Task Action Result.

You can use the STAR technique to let colleagues know how their behaviour is affecting you and what you need. It helps you to do that without getting personal or emotive.

Use STAR to organise your thoughts

First, identify the effect of the person’s behaviour.

When I am working at my desk (Situation)

Trying to meet a report deadline (Task)

And they keep talking to me about your project (Action)

I find it hard to focus on my report writing (Result)

Now, use STAR to identify what you need.

When I am working at my desk (Situation)

Trying to meet a report deadline (Task)

I would appreciate not being interrupted (Action)

So that I can focus and meet my deadline. (Result)

Keep it real

It's time to talk to your colleague. To keep it real you won't  use the exact words you prepared. But as part of a natural conversation you will be more able to clearly and calmly state what you need.

It’s not the only tool you need to handle the challenges of open plan workspaces, but it will make a big difference. Practise using it and you’ll find that things will often run a lot smoother.


Interested in a workshop on achieving more in your open plan office for your team?

About Roydon Gibbs

roydon 2 460x300

Roydon Gibbs is a Senior Trainer at Skillset.

Roydon specialises in engagement - how to ensure that your staff enjoy coming to work, are at their most productive, speak well of your organisation after hours - and stay.

He has been training for more than 15 years. His knowledge of engagement comes from the research and his experience working with a wide range of organisations.

Roydon holds qualifications in adult teaching and learning. He is a professional member of the New Zealand Association for Training and Development and an accredited member of the National Speakers' Association.

Interested in training in leading virtual teams?

We’ll show your leaders how to keep your virtual teams motivated and productive.

Learn more

Interested in a workshop on customer service?

An experienced Skillset trainer will get your teams engaged in customer service.

Learn more

Interested in training in engaging employees?

A few key skills could dramatically improve your team’s morale, motivation and resilience. They will reduce absenteeism and the costs of high staff turnover. Let’s work with your leaders and your staff.

Learn more