Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Using Conversational Technology to Become a Conversational Expert

Last week I was a key note speaker at the Institute of Hospital Engineers Australia, Annual Conference. The theme of the conference was ‘Technology in Health Today’. You may wonder what I might have to offer by way of ‘Technology’.

The subject of my presentation was about ‘Conversational Technology’ and the premise that much of what you do as a leader is to talk and have conversations. I advocated that how effectively you coordinate your actions with others, is at the heart of organisational performance and productivity. As a knowledge worker you perform your work talking, either to yourself or to others. Your performance, therefore, not only depends on your knowledge, but also, and in a not less important way, on your conversational competences. So conversations are a Core Business Process. 

The quality of your communication is a key variable in organisational performance and it has a direct relationship on your work enjoyment. Your work enjoyment has a direct relationship to business outcomes. The same equation applies to those you work with and for. I invite you to consider the following:
  • An organisation can be viewed as a network of conversations and relationships.
  • The quality of conversations and relationships determines what is done, and how well things are done.
  • Having constructive conversations and building productive relationships is a fundamental competence for all organisational personnel.

As a leader, the types of conversations you have, include conversations for:

  • Connection and intimacy - in relationship with others, these are the conversations for connection e.g. “How was your weekend?”
  •  Shared Understanding - trying to be understood and understand in order to make plans and decisions e.g.  “Oh so you mean X …Ok let’s call them”
  • Coordinating Action - getting things done through making agreements about who will do what by when e.g. “Ok so I will call Ken and arrange a time to collect A…”

As leaders it is essential that you develop your conversational skills so that you can achieve organisational objectives. In summary, effective conversations in the workplace enables you to accomplish:
  • clarity and shared understanding,
  • possibility (including new ideas and new ways of thinking),
  • agreement and commitment,
  • strategic direction,
  • cooperation, coordination and collaboration,
  • improved relationships, and
  • desired outcomes
To effectively lead and manage you must
  • Take hold of the conversational systems and practices of the organisation
  • Become an expert at knowing what type of conversation to have to achieve the result you want
  • Become a ‘conversational expert’

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