SlideShare a Scribd company logo
November 2015
Creating a
Culture of
Conversation
Dr Tim Baker
www.winnersatwork.com.au
tim@winnersatwork.com.au
It’s all about the conversation
Organisations are
conversations
Organisations
are a series of
conversations
Good quality
conversation is
sadly neglected
The ‘art’ of
conversation
Have we lost the need
for conversations?
I don’t have
time for
conversations
Leadership is a
relationship
Psychological contract
Individual
I offer
I expect
Organisation
The organisation
expects
The organisation
offers
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
1: Inattention during
conversations
2: Restricted
information
channels
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
3: Lack of feedback
4: A culture
of not
asking
questions
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
5: Too much formality
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
6: Over-reliance
on email
7: Lack of
role
models
8: Fear of emotion
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
9: Physical office layout
THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS
TO COMMUNICATION
The five conversations framework
Date Topic Content Key Questions
Month 1 Climate review Job satisfaction, morale
and communication
• How would you rate your current job satisfaction?
• How would you rate morale?
• How would you rate communication?
Month 2 Strengths
and talents
Efficiently deploying
strengths and talents
• What are your strengths and talents?
• How can these strengths and talents be used in your current and
future roles in the organisation?
Month 3 Opportunities
for growth
Improving performance
and standards
• Where are opportunities for improved performance?
• How can I assist you to improve your performance?
Month 4 Learning and
development
Support and growth • What skills would you like to learn?
• What learning opportunities would you like to undertake?
Month 5 Innovation and
continuous
improvement
Ways and means to improve
the efficiency and
effectiveness of the business
• What is the one way that you could improve your own working
efficiency?
• What is the one way that we can improve our team’s operations?
Baker, T. (2013). The End of the Performance Review: A New Approach to Appraising Employee Performance
Five more everyday conversations at work
• Coaching – intentional ongoing development
• Mentoring – informal day to day sharing (and example)
• Delegating – it’s about your development too …
• Visioning – sharing and sustaining the “why”
• Encouraging – ensuring people feel significant
Perceptual positions
1st Position
Self
3rd Position
Observer
2nd Position
Other
Good conversation
is about questions
Dr Tim Baker
tim@winnersatwork.com.au
0413 636 832
www.winnersatwork.com.au

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Creating a Culture of Conversation

  • 1. November 2015 Creating a Culture of Conversation Dr Tim Baker www.winnersatwork.com.au tim@winnersatwork.com.au
  • 2. It’s all about the conversation Organisations are conversations Organisations are a series of conversations Good quality conversation is sadly neglected The ‘art’ of conversation Have we lost the need for conversations? I don’t have time for conversations Leadership is a relationship
  • 3. Psychological contract Individual I offer I expect Organisation The organisation expects The organisation offers
  • 4. THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
  • 5. THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION 1: Inattention during conversations
  • 6. 2: Restricted information channels THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
  • 7. THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION 3: Lack of feedback
  • 8. 4: A culture of not asking questions THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
  • 9. 5: Too much formality THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
  • 12. 8: Fear of emotion THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
  • 13. 9: Physical office layout THE 9 COMMON BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
  • 14. The five conversations framework Date Topic Content Key Questions Month 1 Climate review Job satisfaction, morale and communication • How would you rate your current job satisfaction? • How would you rate morale? • How would you rate communication? Month 2 Strengths and talents Efficiently deploying strengths and talents • What are your strengths and talents? • How can these strengths and talents be used in your current and future roles in the organisation? Month 3 Opportunities for growth Improving performance and standards • Where are opportunities for improved performance? • How can I assist you to improve your performance? Month 4 Learning and development Support and growth • What skills would you like to learn? • What learning opportunities would you like to undertake? Month 5 Innovation and continuous improvement Ways and means to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the business • What is the one way that you could improve your own working efficiency? • What is the one way that we can improve our team’s operations? Baker, T. (2013). The End of the Performance Review: A New Approach to Appraising Employee Performance
  • 15. Five more everyday conversations at work • Coaching – intentional ongoing development • Mentoring – informal day to day sharing (and example) • Delegating – it’s about your development too … • Visioning – sharing and sustaining the “why” • Encouraging – ensuring people feel significant
  • 16. Perceptual positions 1st Position Self 3rd Position Observer 2nd Position Other
  • 18. Dr Tim Baker tim@winnersatwork.com.au 0413 636 832 www.winnersatwork.com.au

Editor's Notes

  1. Begin with the story of the two engineers on the project. Explain that we’ll cover the 10 barriers to communication and 10 conversations leaders must have.
  2. Organisations are conversations. The organisation as a collection of people working together to achieve a certain outcome. Organisations are a series of conversations that go on in the lunch room, board room, office, hallway, car, and toilet. 100, 1000, and 10 and 10000 conversations everyday. Some conversations are short, some long, some meaningful, some trivial, some are formal, others informal, some pleasant, others unpleasant. Some structured, others meandering. Some online, others off-line Good quality conversation is sadly neglected. It’s the quality of conversations that count. Meaningful conversations in a workplace affect performance, morale, energy levels, trust levels. The art of conversation. There is no art. We are all capable of being good conversations. We all have good conversations and poor conversations. Some conversations such as difficult conversation do take some skill. But most or not really an art form. Have we lost the need for conversation? If you go home this afternoon on public transport, whether it is by tram, train or bus, have a look around. You will notice everyone is fixated on a screen. When these people arrive home they’ll be fixated on another screen; a TV screen, all the while making face book and twitter updates. There are many conversations we have through technology. Its convenient. It takes a few seconds. It can be done at the click of a button. But many of those conversations occur online when they ought to occur face-to-face. I don’t have time for conversations. A manager said to me the other day: “I don’t have time for conversations. I have too much work to do.” Someone comes to their office at said, “I’m going. I have a better offer in another organisation.” Perhaps an earlier conversation may have prevented this conversation. Leadership is a relationship. Kouzes and Posner once said “Leadership is a relationship” in their great book: “The Leadership Challenge”. I totally agree. But how do you form a relationship? Through trust building. And how do you build trust? Through a series of meaningful conversations.
  3. Let’s consider the 10 barriers to communication in organisations The single biggest barrier to promoting a culture of conversation is the psychological contract. The psychological contract is the #1 barrier. The old contract is a “them and us” contract. The manager does the thinking and the employee does the doing. This engenders mistrust; having meaningful conversations from the managers point of view seems pointless. And from an employees point of view, they can’t see the need: “Just tell me what you need me to do and I’ll get on with it.” The new psychological contract is collaborative, engaging, and conversation by nature. A new psychological contract is based on mutual respect, dialogue, conversation.
  4. We have looked at the psychological barriers of communication. Let’s look at nine barriers that can be personal, structural, cultural, procedural, or physical.
  5. Warren Bennis identified the “management of attention” as one of the core competencies of highly successful leaders. How do we improve your ability to manage your attention? Three things help with the management of attention: Reduce manageable distractions Multi-tasking is not efficient. Shifting from one activity to the next can give the illusion of efficiency. But you are short changing yourself on both activities. Focus on one conversation at a time. If the conversation is worth having, it is worth your complete undivided attention. Identify your most attentive time of the day. Important conversations ought to take place in high energy times. Ask yourself: How present am I in this conversation?
  6. “You’ll get told on a need to know basis” is a common refrain from a manager with a traditional psychological contract mindset. This idea is borne out of the notion that employees can’t be trusted with confidential information. The assumption is that managers can be trusted, but employees can’t. This is erroneous. Granted, there are more employees than managers, but the idea of not communicating because of a lack of trust is a barrier to genuine, open dialogue. It is a two-way street too: Employees have to be willing to share bad news to managers too.
  7. Australian managers are worst in the world at giving timely, relevant, and balanced feedback. Feedback ought to be a dialogue, not a monologue. Tell the story of the 19 year old employee who received no feedback.
  8. Discuss the concept of managers being trained to answer questions not ask them. Talk about the story of the accident in the production area. The person who asks the questions has control of the conversation always. Show me a good conversationalist, and I’ll show you someone who asks lots of questions.
  9. Conversations in the bosses office are not necessarily going to be the best conversations. In paramilitary organizations based on power, conversations can be accompanied by lots of paperwork and red tape. This stifles conversation. The best conversations ironically occur around the watercooler, in the hallways, in the car driving back from a client or customer meeting.
  10. The average person spends 2.5 hours a day on email. What would those 2.5 hours be spend doing before email? Conversation? Having a conversation via email is not a real conversation; it is asynchronous; the sending and receiving doesn’t happen at the same time. Would this be best discussed in person or via the telephone?
  11. What do your senior managers do? Tell the story of the police commissioner
  12. “I don’t want to open a can of worms” “let sleeping dogs lie” Talk about the story of the orchestra: two musicians have not spoken to each other for 10 years.
  13. There are two issues here with physical layout: proximity and layout. Proximity refers to the relative physical distance between people. Layout in the office environment; the further someone is from the centre of the action, the more likely they are to be less involved and engaged in the daily operations. We have found interestingly, that the move in recent times to open office plans do encourage open communication, but because people can be heard due to lack of privacy, there is less meaningful interactions. Managers often say to me “I have an open door policy”; I feel like saying, “Yes, but do you have an open mind?”
  14. So those are the main barriers to communication. So how do we encourage more productive conversations and meaningful dialogue? You need a framework in place that promotes these conversations. I want to share with you two frameworks. Both of these frameworks can, and should be, recorded for reference. The first of this frameworks that we discuss in Conversations at Work is The Five Conversations Framework. Briefly describe the framework and the fact that some organisations are using this as a substitute for the traditional performance review.
  15. The second framework is this; which covers five more conversations your leaders should be having. Coaching: Increasingly coaching is critically important in the workplace. This can range from a debrief of a project and based on three key questions: What went well? What didn’t go well? And what could you do differently next time, given the same circumstances? Mentoring: Mentoring is a less formal and less structured series of conversations. Implementing a mentoring program can be a great idea to promote productive conversation in the workplace. Delegation: Delegation should be a two-way dialogue. It should be a developmental process more than anything else. Visioning: This is about sharing the ‘why’: Why are we doing what we do? How can it assist us to achieve our strategic direction? Encouraging: The important but sadly neglected conversation managers can have is to encourage employees undertaking challenging projects. Good leaders are use to having each of these conversations regularly with their team members.
  16. I want to share with you what I believe to be the two fundamental attributes of someone who has the capacity to have meaningful conversations with their staff. One is a way of thinking and the other is a behaviour. Perceptual positions considers the way people view the conversation they are in. First position is looking at he situation through their own eyes; the least helpful frame-of-reference for a conversationalist. Second position is looking at the situation through the eyes of the other person. In other words, putting ourselves in their shoes. It doesn’t mean agreeing with them. It really means to understand their perspective. Third position is appreciating the context of the conversation and the other important variables that need to be taken into account. For example, if you are in a forest and you have your nose pressed up against the trunk of a large tree, you are in first position; you can see the tree, but are unaware you are in a forest. Stepping back from the tree you are able to see many trees and realise you are actually in the middle of a forest. This is second position. Talk about the three conceptual positions using the analogue of a fight between two people. Now if you get into a helicopter and rise above the forest and look down, all you will see is a sea of green; you can see the totality of the forest. This is third position. Take two people having an argument, finger pointing, voices raised, talking over the top of each other. This is first position. Both are not interested in anything else except promoting their own point-of-view. If one of them decides to stop talking and ask the other person to explain their case, this has the potential to put that person into second position. That person can then move to third position by considering the situation they are in and some of the external variables that may help or hinder a solution.
  17. The person who asks more questions drives the agenda of the conversation. Use the example of the journalist. Good conversationalist ask lots of open questions: Why, what, which, when, where, and how.
  18. TechnologyOne have kindly purchased many copies of my book. You can receive a free copy by ticking the box on the evaluation form. There are some sample copies you can flick through before making a decision.