by Dawn-Marie Turner, PhD
Organizationally, conversation is often given a bad rap. For many organizational leaders it symbolizes the informal and unstructured talking that employees engage in when they should be “working”. The reality, however, is that conversation is the backbone of every organization — especially during change. Change happens through conversation. Your change conversations can pull your organization together and rally its energy around your change or they can drain its collective energy and send your organization into a downward spiral.
People naturally use conversation to make sense of a situation. Conversation helps us create the context, meaning and structures we need to interact effectively with our environment. It is through the collection of new and continuous conversations that our reality is formed. Perhaps even more importantly, our conversations help create the energy (positive or negative) that we will bring to our situation.
A leader’s ability to create the environment, mechanisms, and timing of change conversations is a strong predictor of success. The guided conversation technique uses a series of questions, activities, and structured dialogues to enable individuals to build the structures and meaning necessary to move through the change process. It is not one conversation, but a series of dialogues conducted at multiple levels of the organization. It defines the nature, flow and timing of information to tap into and use the collective energy of the organization in support of your change.
Using Guided Conversation to Facilitate Organizational Change
The guided conversation technique enables you to tap into the natural rhythm of the change conversation. It is a powerful tool to focus the energy of your organization on successfully implementing the change.
The guided conversation:
- reduces the potential for resistance and raises readiness
- encourages ownership and commitment for the change
- surfaces barriers to change sooner
- encourages active involvement in problem solving to enable the change
- builds a critical mass of individuals to enable the change
- helps manage and grow a healthy grapevine
Where are the conversations in your organization taking you?