Critical Business Conversations

This month’s Professional Development webinar was on the topic of Critical Business Conversations.

If you missed it you can download the recording.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.

Critical Business Conversations

Conversations move business forward

As I work with executives at many companies, one of the things I notice that makes the most effective leaders and teams really stand out, is their ability to have the right conversations.

Avoiding uncomfortable conversations and hoping that the right actions will sort themselves out, is usually a disaster waiting to happen. But even at best this misses a huge opportunity to go faster, create improvements, reduce risk, and generally make everyone feel proud about what they are doing.

In this webinar I highlighted some key critical conversations (that many leaders tend to avoid) that have a big payoff. And I provided suggestions and scripts for how to have them effectively.

This is a very useful webinar to download if you want to:

  • Be a better manager
  • Build rapport and respect with your boss and peers
  • Set realistic expectations on your commitments and strategy
  • Lead your team to execute more reliably
  • Increase motivation and personal buy-in on your team
  • Manage pay and performance discussions with your boss and team members

In this webinar: Critical Business Conversations I gave you not only approaches and strategies to drive the conversations that make your business and career move forward, but also some specific scripts and words to use.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.

If you are not a member, you can learn about membership and join, or you can purchase this individual webinar below.

The webinar

This webinar covered insights and outlines for conversations to:

  • Engage and motivate your team
  • Say NO with credibility
  • Make sure your strategy will be implemented by your team
  • Have right discussion about missed deadlines and accountability
  • Discuss pay and performance with your boss and team members

Effective Conversation is not a soft skill

Many leaders make the mistake of lumping quality conversation into the category of “soft skills” and then thinking either, “I have not time or no interest in soft skills.” or, “We just need to make then numbers. I only care about the bottom line“.

Good conversations have very little to do with soft skills and very much to do with executing effectively and removing risk. Conversations drive aligned action — which is what you need if you are worried abut the bottom line.

1. Engaging and Motivating Your Team

So many leaders seek my help to increase the engagement and motivation of their team.

Getting your team to buy in on a personal level requires a personal conversation — which involves asking them what they really think.

I realized that in my own career, executives loved working for me because no one else had ever asked them what they personally think!

Sitting down with your team both 1-1 and as a group, and being genuinely interested in what they really think, goes a long way toward genuine engagement and motivation. You get smarter, and they get motivated.

In the webinar I shared some of my favorite questions to get this type of discussion going.

2. Saying NO with Credibility

Being able to succeed on your commitments requires that you are able to say NO to other things.

But to be able to say NO, and maintain your credibility requires the right conversation.

In the webinar we talked about how to focus the discussion on reality and what you CAN do, and how to present various levels of work with the associated various levels of budget.

It’s critical that you don’t sign up to change the world, with a budget to sharpen the pencils.

The conversation is a challenging one, but I have always been better off standing up for reality, than making impossible promises.

The YES (avoiding the conversation about reality) might make you feel safer in the moment, but then at some point you won’t deliver — and that is a conversation you DO want to avoid!

3. Make sure your strategy will be implemented by your team

In the webinar we talk about the role and the importance of unstructured team conversation about strategy.

When a leader broadcasts his or her strategy and then requests plans and proposals back from the team, this highly structured method of communication misses the part where people really get to say what they think, raise questions and have the opportunity to engage on a personal level.

If you skip the team conversation about the strategy you want them to execute, you’ll be sending your team off with a lack of true alignment, and potentially weak or passive aggressive support. Big gaps, questions and doubt about what you are trying to do will remain. It’s always better to know if you lack support than to not know and be surprised later.

You can effectively address concerns and issues about the strategy, and probably even improve it, but not if you never actually talk about it.

We talked about how to have the strategy conversation in a productive way, so that you can get the debate and concerns out on the table, but then also how to change the strategy conversation to execution, when it’s time to move forward.

4. Addressing missed deadlines

It’s surprising to me how many organizations report having trouble to deliver on time, but yet don’t do anything when they miss deadlines.

There has to be some kind of consequence. You don’t have to fire someone for every missed deadline, but you must have a conversation about it.

Is this unconfortable? Yes. But it should be uncomfortable, you missed a deadline!

In the webinar we talked about a simple and productive way to have this conversation — to address it, learn from it, and avoid it in the future.

5. Pay and Performance

Both as a manager and as an individual, you are better off if you are the one driving these conversations. Of the 25ish years that I worked for a boss, I drove this conversation with my boss for probably 19 of those years.

Keeping alignment on expectations between employee and boss is vitally important.

This does not have to be an uncomfortable conversation. In the webinar, I provided some suggestions for how to have a business-focused, data-driven version of this conversation to make sure there are never any surprises.

Want some help?

To get some help with this and learn the specific ideas and techniques that we talked about, download the webinar: Critical Business Conversations , now.

Members: Download the webinar for free.
Non Members: You can purchase this individual webinar or podcast (links below).

Here are some additional, useful webinars related to this topic

Members get these additional webinars for free:

So if you are not yet a member, you might as well join and get them all for free!

Let me be your mentor

Members of Azzarello Group basically get me as their mentor.

Every month you get new insights and tools in the form of these webinars, as well as the chance to call into a monthly members-only coaching hour where you can get direct personal coaching from me.

People tell me that membership gives them a totally new way of thinking about their career, getting promotions, solving difficult problems with bosses, peers, employees, and other annoying people, communicating better, being more influential, becoming a stronger leader, and enjoying their work more. I love to hear this, and I love to help!

If you join now, you’ll not only get this webinar, but all the other webinars in the Member Library.

AND you’ll get the opportunity to participate in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls with me.
Check out what we talk about.

AND as a member you’ll get to download your copy of the Career Year of action Guide (a $30 value) for free.

Membership is a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

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Other Options:

Purchase just this webinar ($19.99)
Purchase just this podcast ($9.99)


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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.


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You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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