Talking the Talk – For Learning & Performance (Part 3)

From the Eye on the Workforce Blog
Workforce management is a key part of project success, but project managers often find it difficult to get trustworthy information on what really works. From interpersonal interactions to big workforce issues we'll look the latest research and proven techniques to find the most effective solutions for your projects.

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This is the third post in a series, translating concepts in this Harvard Business School article about the book Talk, Inc into tactics usable in your project. That article stated that there are four key factors necessary to create a constructive, authentic continuing conversation. The reason why there are so few organizations that have this vital type of conversation is that four factors must be managed properly.

Previously, I have described how you can set an environment where Intimacy exists so that workers are comfortable in honest and open conversation . You have also seen how to maximize Interactivity.

According to the book, the third of four critical factors to improve the corporate conversation is Inclusion. You will have to be inclusive of all project participants in your communications to ensure  that

  • the information transferred is authentic, constructive and continual
  • participants learn efficiently
  • teams perform efficiently

The more the merrier. Getting everyone involved in the conversation is very important to maintaining that communication, but this will take special effort, even after you deal with the passive-aggressive individuals. You have to set the tone from the beginning that you desire all to participate. Then you have make that goal a reality.

Once you get the lines of communication open, make starting the conversation easier.

  • Train everyone on any relatively new communication technology to the organization, especially if it is corporate social media. While those of certain generations enjoy social media as a part of their daily lives, others do not use it much in their personal lives. They just need a little help learning how to use it at work.
  • Explain what kind of communication "turns off" others. Focus on interaction etiquette. This will reduce problems. For example, explain that opposing arguments should be against an idea, not an individual. Everyone must maintain a professionalism and respect while they get work done and issues resolved.
  • Send a message to everyone that it is time to begin the conversation.
  • Actively and publically bring in others from groups who usually do not have constant involvement, such as certain stakeholders. They can easily use the same discussions everyone else is using, so there is some egalitarianism.
  • Actively request input from passive-aggressive participants.
  •  Explain how the project leaders understand the importance of everyone having a voice prior to decisions being made and to avoid and resolve issues.
  • Have the project leaders individually explain their value of everyone being involved. Say what a value it will be to get honest input in real time to make the project work better.

To get project participants to keep on communicating,

  • Respond to their comments quickly.
  • Use hash tags to respond, so that the acknowledgement gets to the individual and can be captured in trending statistics.

How does this bring benefits to project learning and performance? Because learning is social, everyone involved in the ongoing project conversation will be able to get a fast transfer of information in a compelling format that can be used to get work done. This is real, practical sharing unlike what has been possible before. There has never been a better way to maintain a feeling of togetherness and collaboration in your project or organization.

In my next post, I will finish up Inclusion by explaining how to deal with communication problems  when they arise. We can't wear rose-colored glasses here!  To solve obstacles to effective conversation, you have to know the fourth and final critical factor. Can you guess what letter it starts with?

Posted on: December 17, 2012 08:01 AM | Permalink

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