The 5 conversations every business should be having in the workplace

The 5 conversations every business should be having in the workplace 
By Kearin Lowry

Visual pollution, information overload, alternative facts. The sheer volume of information (and misinformation) that we are exposed to throughout the day is unprecedented. We are connected 24/7 to work. It’s not unusual to have a portion of your workforce working remotely or “on the road”.

While we may be permanently connected with technology we are often disconnected with our workplace relationships.

Consider this, why is it that many of us are more likely to send an email to our colleague sitting next to us rather than engage in a real conversation? Or we post an update rather than picking up the phone.  It’s no wonder that the ability to have quality conversations is a waning skill.

Innovation vs Improvement

Innovation, and disruption, seem to be the new management catchphrases. With a new federal funding focus on innovation and our own inbuilt desire as consumers to chase the latest and greatest product/service/technology, it makes sense that business owners and managers would start to look at innovation as a pathway to business growth. But the reality is innovation is often expensive and by its very nature- risky.

So how does a typical small to medium sized business grow their business in a competitive and challenging economic environment?  The HR Coach Research Institute surveyed over 500 organisations, gathering feedback from more than 26,000 individuals to explore the differences between low-, medium and high-performing organisations.  And what the data showed was that high-performing organisations are focussing on improvement- putting most of their effort and resources into doing what they already do– but finding ways to do it better.

Quality Communication is Key to Improvement

Long term, sustainable improvements simply cannot happen without effective communication. We simply cannot know what needs to be done, who should be doing it and how can it be done better, without having quality conversations with key stakeholders and then communicating the strategic and operational outcomes of those conversations.

If improvement is the road forward and effective communication is the vehicle that will get us there, the worrying news is that most businesses wouldn’t get a road-worthy certificate. The data from the HR Coach Research Institute shows that:

  • Overall, communication doesn’t happen well in organisations;
  • Communication style and quality vary greatly between low and high performing organisations.

Employees in high performing organisations were:

  • 12% happier with the formal communication process;
  • 13% more satisfied with their team leadership;
  • 16% more likely to describe management as good quality communicators.

5 Effective Conversations at Work

After analysing the data it became clear that for Australian organisations to be more competitive in a global economy and sustainable in their local markets the primary focus needed to be in business improvement first to create a strong foundation for growth and innovation.  Owners, managers and employees need to improve their communication skills to create an environment where improvements can be identified, openly discussed and effectively implemented.  And all of this needs to happen in a real world, time and resource sensitive operating environment.

In most of the Organisational Improvement coaching and consulting we do with businesses at Tweak HR we use the HRF101: Human Resources Framework to underpin our strategic and operational plans. We combine this framework with other proven tools such as personality awareness and emotional intelligence development to achieve long term, sustainable outcomes for our clients. The HRF:101 framework identifies 5 distinct workplace functions. Building on this, the latest research into effective communication has shown that each function stimulates a different and important type of conversation- the 5 Effective Conversations at Work.

© HR Coach Research Institute

These include:

  1. Ideas (Build Futures)– The objective is to plan ahead for the future of your business. It’s all about strategy, planning and implementation.
  2. Delegate (Accelerate Performance) – The aim is to support accelerated performance through development of people’s skills, processes and systems.
  3. Thinking (Build Resilience) – Managing risk is difficult in fast paced and changing environments. Critical thinking is tested during high-risk situations. These conversations have an ethical mindset that promotes resilience, fairness and respect in the workplace.
  4. Feedback (Mindful Leadership)– Providing feedback in an “intelligent” conversation and supports mindful and competent leadership. These conversations are important to motivate people who are already doing great work, to set them back on track if they’re not and to help them develop their skills so they can do even better in the future.
  5. Meetings (Create Partnerships)– Meetings provide an avenue for contribution at both an individual and collective level. The health of the workplace “tribe” and belonging is most demonstrated here. Out of all conversations, this is traditionally the least effective in all organisations.

Golden Rules for Success

Creating and sustaining a workplace environment where effective conversations happen regularly is not an easy, quick fix situation.  It takes time, commitment, skills development and leadership from all levels of the Organisation.  The potential rewards for your organisation and your employees are well worth the investment.  Tweak HR can help you to develop and implement the structure and skills development your organisations needs to move forward. If you do nothing else to improve the quality of your business communication, we ask that you consider these two rules for success:

  • Have the right conversation with the right people at the right time.
  • Set everyone up for success in a consistently respectful and collaborative environment.

If you would like to learn more about improving the quality of your workplace communication, including receiving a copy of the 5 Effective Conversations at Work whitepaper, please contact Kearin via email at [email protected].

 

Kearin Lowry Author
Partner , Tweak HR
Kearin Lowry is a Partner at Tweak HR which is a business based in the Darling Downs region, that helps other local businesses improve their productivity and profitability. Kearin is a HRM professional with 15 years’ experience partnering with business owners and managers to build performance, engage staff and achieve business outcomes. As a human resource generalist Kearin has expertise in performance management, developing human resources frameworks, interpreting Awards and employment legislation, application of policies and procedures, and delivery operational and strategic business projects.
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