Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

At times the workplace can feel like a battle ground of competing priorities and resources. Securing the budgets, rosters, staffing, access to materials, equipment and facilities you need can be a challenge.

To survive you might assume you need to be a skillful warrior defending your turf.

Sadly, an adversarial, combative approach can lead to casualties and toxic work environments. But what is the alternative? Surely if you don’t fight to win you will end up the loser?

Fortunately, there is another approach that doesn’t rely on winners and losers and is far more efficient and productive.

It is simple and effective and when used with skill and commitment will transform the experiences you have at work.

It’s influenced by the principles of the Harvard Negotiation Model developed by Ury and Fisher. To make it useful, let’s keep it simple and call it the you, me, we approach.

'You and me'

The approach is all about shifting our focus.

Rather than seeing ourselves as opposing warriors battling to protect our positions, we move towards being fellow warriors battling a common problem.

Begin by approaching the situation genuinely wanting to understand the other persons interests and priorities. Ask quality questions— ‘Tell me what you need?’ Then genuinely listen. Check and clarify that you have a clear sense of their interests— ‘I want to make sure I accurately understand what you are saying. From what you are telling me, it seems like you need...’

Then offer your perspective— ‘Let me explain my interests and priorities’. Check and clarify that you have adequately explained your interests and priorities— ‘I want to make sure my explanation is clear and understandable, based on what I have said what do you think I am needing?’

Ready for 'we'?

With a clear understanding of the interests and priorities you both have, you can now move to working together — ‘So, what are we going to do about this?’ (I've added bold to illustrate how, you, me, we  works. Don't emphasise those words when you say them.)

It takes effort and skill to put this approach into practice, but the gains are worth it. You'll preserve your positive working relationships and, rather than simply winning battles, you will be solving problems and producing results.

Interested in a workshop for your team leaders?

Feedback, it’s important right? Not just when team members get things wrong, but when things are going well too.

You see Pete doing a job and he is not wearing his safety goggles. So, at your tool box meeting the following morning you tell everybody ‘You need to up your game and stop being slack about safety around here.’

You arrive at the office and find the team on task and working well. So, you drop by the staff café at morning tea time and tell them all ‘You’re doing a great job team, keep up the good work’.

Rants and rah-rah

You think you were giving feedback. But what you really did was have a rant and a rah-rah moment. You are suffering from the plague of the vague.

Phrases like ‘up your game’, ‘stop being slack’, ‘great job’ and ‘keep up the good work’ don’t give your team any meaningful information about what they need to do or what they have been doing well. Although your intentions were good, what you said will have little or no positive effect on performance and productivity.


Feedback that produces positive results needs to be given with the confidence of clarity. You can do that by making sure your feedback is SPOT ON:







A couple of examples

(Check them against the Spot On checklist. Notice how even a single statement can pass more than one test.)

When you see Pete not wearing his safety goggles, give him feedback ‘Pete if you keep doing that job without wearing safety goggles you could end up blind. Stop what you are doing and put your safety goggles on.’

When you arrive at the office and find the team on task and working well. Drop by the staff café at morning tea time and tell them, ‘I’m impressed by the focused effort you are all putting into the ABC contract at present. We are all achieving our targets and we are on track to meet the deadline.’

Interested in a workshop for your team leaders?

About Roydon Gibbs

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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.

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