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Über dieses Buch

Organizations are about conversations. For any organization to achieve its goals, people need to interact and those interactions require dialogue and conversation. Yet, thanks to technology, we seem to be having fewer genuine conversations. This book seeks to change this, through "how to skills" and wider cultural change advice.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
Organizational life is increasingly complex. Globalization, technology, disruption, and constant change affect public and private organizations, the large and the small, the contemporary and the traditional. But there’s one apparently simple thing that they all share and that is both part of the increasing complexity they face and also a key to managing that complexity.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Organizations are Conversations

Chapter 1. Organizations are Conversations

Abstract
One of the authors remembers vividly a situation where two civil engineers working on a complex project were not too civil with each other. They sat in an office cubicle, facing each other. The only thing separating them was a partition. One of the engineers was quite upset with the other over some details that were overlooked in the large-scale project they were working on together. He reacted to this situation by firing off an angry email to his colleague sitting a meter away. His email contained words such as “unprofessional” and “careless.” He did this when he could have simply got out of his chair and had a conversation with his colleague — sharing his concerns about the overlooked details in the construction project and discussing solutions. The other engineer, understandably very angry and defensive about this email, fired off a heated email response with his own accusations and also copied in the project manager! Not a verbal word was uttered. In isolation this seems like a ludicrous situation, but unfortunately it happens too often in organizations.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Developing a Culture for Conversations

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. The “Them and Us” Employment Relationship: A Culture of Discouraging Conversations

Abstract
A new employee was being inducted and trained by a long-time member of a customer service team. The new employee appreciated her trainer’s experience and knowledge and quickly gained a level of confidence in her new role. One thing she also quickly learned was that a key performance measure was how quickly visitors were processed, not how well their inquiries were handled. “It feels like churn and burn,”she told her trainer. “Lots of these people are coming back again and again with the same issue and they’re upset at us for not giving them the right information. It seems like we should be spending more time finding out what the real issue is when they first come in.” “Not our problem,”said her trainer. “That’s the manager’s problem. They just don’t want to see lines of people.” Although she wasn’t content with this, the new employee persevered with things until she took complete ownership of the role and then started engaging in richer conversations to try to prevent repeated visits and provide better customer service. “You’re taking too long with the customers,” she was told by her manager. Explaining her rationale and commitment to deliver better service was to no avail. “That’s not your concern,” she was told.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 3. A New Employment Relationship: A Culture of Encouraging Conversations

Abstract
Research across the years suggests that it is at the too often neglected level of everyday conversation that the most powerful change interventions occur. Weick states: “The power of conversation, dialogue and respectful interaction to reshape ongoing change has often been overlooked. We are in thrall to the story of dramatic interventions in which heroic figures turn around stubbornly inertial structures held in place by rigid people who are slow learners. This is a riveting story. It is also a deceptive story. It runs roughshod over capabilities already in place, over the basics of change, and over changes that are already underway”1
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 4. The Nine Common Barriers to Communication

Abstract
A manager on a communication course led by one of the authors realized that his conversations with his staff were far more limited than was healthy. He had somehow found himself trapped by the organizational culture and structures that deliberately separated managers from the people they managed. He saw himself as an “open door” manager, approachable and friendly, but was puzzled why people rarely came to him — and why when he initiated conversations with them they were often initially guarded and even suspicious. He guessed it must just be that “manager-staff gulf” The conversations during the course highlighted the fact that something as mundane as the physical location of his office was actually influencing the way he was perceived and how approachable he was. The office he had inherited when he became the manager was at the back of the work area, so staff visiting from other offices or sites, particularly, had to negotiate all the other workstations and then his assistants before actually reaching him, way at the back in his spacious and private area. When he came back for a follow-up workshop a month later, he reported that he had moved his office further towards the front entry so that he was more visible and accessible
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Types of Workplace Conversations

Frontmatter

Chapter 5. Development Conversations: The Five Conversations Framework

Abstract
Craig was about to start the developmental conversation with Mary one of his supervisors. He had arranged to meet Mary for this discussion in a quiet, comfortable room away from his office.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 6. Development Conversations: Five More Conversations

Abstract
A senior state public servant took on responsibility for a department with employees and offices across the state. His primary task upon taking up his new role was to regenerate a sense of purpose and value among the staff, who had for several years felt ignored and undervalued.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 7. Conversations for Building Relationships

Abstract
Can you imagine a situation where two people sat side-by-side in the workplace for ten years without uttering one word to each other; not even a hello, good morning, how are you? Not one word! Well, it happened.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 8. Conversations for Making and Reviewing Decisions

Abstract
Sometimes leaders will be criticized for making decisions without consultation or collaboration and sometimes they’ll get criticized for being too consultative and collaborative. It is more often than not a fine balancing act.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

The Skills of Conversations

Frontmatter

Chapter 9. The “Face” of Communication

Abstract
In this short chapter, we want to introduce you to a model: the Face of Communication. Features of the model will be used to consider some of the key skills in managing conversations in Chapters 10 to 14 in Part III.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 10. Active Listening Can Make Other People Better Communicators Too

Abstract
The University of Massachusetts conducted an experiment in which they trained six students in “attending skills” — such as an interested posture and eye contact. Then they recorded a lecture the students attended with a visiting professor. The students were told to adopt typical non-attending student behaviors at the beginning of the lecture. The professor lectured from his notes, spoke in a monotone and paid little attention to the students. According to Ivey and Hinkle, “At a prearranged signal, however, the students began deliberately to physically attend. Within half a minute, the lecturer gestured for the first time, his verbal rate increased, and a lively classroom session was born. Simple attending had changed the whole picture. At another signal, the students stopped attending, and the speaker, after awkwardly seeking continued response, resumed the un-engaging lecture with which he began the class.”1
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 11. Using Your Eyes (Part 1): Three Perceptual Positions

Abstract
Jane is a very successful professional who had been promoted to a senior management role, leading a team of other professionals and administrative staff. But while her professional skills were undoubted and highly regarded, her people management skills were not in the same league. Much to her chagrin, she found herself defending herself against accusations of poor management and even bullying behavior towards some of her staff. Jane was genuinely shocked that her behavior was being perceived so negatively and, she believed, unfairly. During a communication workshop she attended, Jane was made aware of the power of perceptions and how even well-intentioned behaviors can communicate unintended negative messages. Jane is, by her own admission, a focused and task-oriented individual. Those qualities undoubtedly enable her to get a lot done and get it done well. Those same strengths, however, often became limitations when interacting with her staff. For example, to keep interactions short and focused, Jane didn’t have a chair on the other side of her desk. A stand-up meeting is a quick meeting, she reasoned, neglecting to consider how the staff member might feel about standing while she sat. She also tended to avoid small talk and avoided interrupting people by greeting them when she arrived at her office.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 12. Using Your Eyes (Part 2): Watching and Being Watched

Abstract
The first thing I noticed about Bruce was what I saw as he entered the room from the corridor. I’d been waiting for Bruce to arrive for our meeting. We’d met before, so I recognized Bruce straightaway. Recognizing him was instinctive. So was noticing him. And although I didn’t consciously at the time “notice myself noticing him,” what I did notice had an immediate influence on how I entered the conversation with Bruce. What I noticed was that Bruce was not noticing me. His head was buried in his phone. Even as he entered my “space” and encountered my outstretched arm, his eyes were still down, focused on a text-based message from someone else. Try as I might not to feel ignored, my emotional response was to feel offended and unimportant. As Bruce encountered my hand (now conveniently in his downcast eye-line) he broke his step, looked at my hand, looked up at me, forced a polite smile, and said “Hi.” And then buried his head in his phone as he made his way to his seat. “Wow,” whispered a colleague after I’d also sat down at the table. “Did you see that?” I’m guessing you had the same reaction as we did. And you probably also recognize that Bruce was unaware that the behavior everyone else in the room had observed had such an influence on our perception of him and his attitude towards us and our meeting.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 13. The Art of Inquiry in Conversations

Abstract
Mel was concerned about the growing use of social media by his younger team members. It bothered him that they weren’t focused enough on their projects. How much time were they wasting? And it further upset Mel that they constantly seemed to be talking about what their professional colleagues at other firms or in other industries were doing — while it was interesting, it just made their meetings more complicated and left him feeling a bit, well, out of touch and out of date.
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Chapter 14. Creating and Maintaining Safe, Open Feedback Channels

Abstract
When Cam was asked in a coaching session about how often he had intentional developmental or feedback conversations with his top-performing team members, he initially tried to brush the question aside. “Not often,” he said. “I don’t need to. I let them get on with it.” Still, asked the coach, how often? Visibly disturbed by the question now, Cam reiterated that he didn’t see the need, so he “stayed out of their way, I delegate and I’m here if they need me.” “So,” “the coach probed, when was the last time you had a deliberate, focused conversation about performance or ideas with one of your top performers?” Silence. Then a slow shake of the head. “I can’t remember,” Cam said. He now looked a bit distressed. “What are you thinking?” asked the coach. “This is potentially very dangerous,” Cam said. “Any one of them could walk out the door tomorrow and I wouldn’t see it coming. I couldn’t replace them or the knowledge they’d take with them. I’ve left myself completely in the dark.”
Tim Baker, Aubrey Warren

Backmatter

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