4. Sharing the Results and Holding Regional Meetings

Sharing the Results: Emails and Attachments

On Monday, Rodd prepared three separate emails to go to the entire group of 75 employees. Each email had five attachments, so everyone would see everything:

  1. In the first email, Rodd’s message was: “These are not problems – they are situations we want to learn more about and discuss like grown-ups. Please get acquainted with them so we can discuss them at your Regional meeting next week.” The attachments were all five TopLine Reports ranking the 56 workplace issues for each Region. 
  2. His message in the second email was: “These are the different categories of non-productive situations we see around us. Let’s talk about the top two or three for your Region. I look forward to working with you.” The five attachments were the five Regional Bar-Charts of the frequency of all eight kinds of workplace issues. 
  3. The third email attached the five sets of Recommendations Reports for making improvements in each Region, with the message, “This is the tough part because we all have something to learn here. There are ways to communicate better that will help us reduce the number of those distracting issues and situations. I’m counting on your ideas for ways we can implement some of the recommended changes in each of your Regional offices. We will talk next week!”

The following week, when Rodd hit the road to visit each Regional Office, he was excited and hopeful. Everyone in all the meetings had looked at the results for their Region, and most had also looked over the results of the other Regions as well. A few had spent their weekend studying the similarities and differences among the regions. His people were ready.

Regional Meetings: The “Tackle First” List and Conversation Groups 

“I have a question for you”, Rodd said early in each of his Regional meetings. “I want to know which three issues – out of your Regional list of the Top Ten – you think are the most important to tackle first.” He went to the whiteboard and wrote “TACKLE FIRST” across the top of the board, underlining it with a red marker. He opened the discussion and wrote notes on the board whenever people identified a “Top Three” item or if they had a question or comment about how to resolve it. 

Halfway through each meeting, after taking photos of the notes on the whiteboard, Rodd erased the board and shifted gears. “I have one more question for you now”, he said. “But first, we are going to read this handout. If you read the attachments that I sent to you, this will be familiar. It is also on the website. But let’s read it out loud so our ears can hear it.”. Rodd asked a different person to read the description of each of the four productive conversations to the group. Here’s a summary of what they covered:

  1. Initiative Conversations have three main ingredients to include when we initiate a new idea or plan for change: What is the goal or objective? When is it to be fulfilled? Why does it matter? We need to ask and answer these questions about each of the workplace issues we choose to resolve.
  2. Understanding Conversations also have three primary ingredients to clarify actions, responsibilities and interactions that support a successful change: Who will be involved in, or touched by, this matter? Where are the resources for solving it, and Where are the results and benefits of a solution most likely to show up? How should we go about resolving the issues and How could we implement the solutions? 
  3. Performance Conversations develop and make the requests and promises that establish agreements for action. This is where we use the What-When-Why questions again. What do we want from specific other people, and what promises are we making, or asking others to make? When do we want our request to be honored? Why is the request important to our organization? Of course, the conversation goes both ways: What do they want from us? By When? Why does it matter? Agreements are a necessary foundation for reliable action.
  4. Closure Conversations have four possible components, but not all of them are necessary for every issue or topic. The idea is to be sure the status of whatever has been started – a project, or a request, promise, or agreement – is followed up and updated regularly, and ultimately completed and closed out for all parties involved. This usually involves more than one, and sometimes all four components, known as the “Four A’s”.
    • Acknowledge the facts by stating what has happened, what has been done or not done, and what worked or didn’t work. 
    • Appreciate the people involved for what they did or contributed. 
    • Apologize for any mistakes or misunderstandings that occurred. 
    • Amend broken agreements to be sure they are recognized as having been broken, and either altered to be more appropriate to new circumstances or taken off the table altogether.

“So, now my question is, who wants to work on implementing one of these four conversations to help resolve these issues?” Rodd went on, “Look at the descriptions, and choose the type of conversation that is a good match for you – either for what you are already good at, or what you want to be better at in your communication.”

Four “Conversation Groups” took shape in each Regional meeting – one for each productive conversation. Rodd directed people interested in conversation #1 to move chairs to the back-left corner of the room, conversation #2 to the back-right corner, and so on. He instructed each group to talk about how they might apply their conversation to one of the Top Three issues identified in the first half of the meeting – and to take good notes on what they saw to do next. People were engaged, talking about how they could apply the new communications to the issues they had identified as most important.

Setup for the All-Staff meeting

At the end of each Regional meeting day, Rodd told the participants that he had scheduled a 1-day meeting for all 75 employees in the Capitol Conference Room at StateOrg headquarters. “That meeting will be three weeks from now”, he said. “What I want you to do between now and then is to get together in your Regional office at least once or twice a week – all of you – for an hour or so. See if you can identify some good productive communication practices that you could start doing in your Regional office. Look for conversation patterns that would make a difference in any of those three ‘Tackle First’ issues we identified today.” 

“In closing, it’s fine with me if you want to take on one or two other issues you think would be important to tackle. But the most important thing is to come up with a plan for your Region’s Top Three. And send me your work plans! I’ll see you in three weeks!”

Rodd went home and reviewed his notes from the Regional meetings. He determined which workplace issues were ranked the highest overall, based on the Top Three selected in each of those meetings. Combined with the original data, he could see which “Big Three” issues he would take to the upcoming Capitol meeting.

To be continued…

  1. The Problem – and a Free Personal Assessment
    1. The Problem
    2. The Free Workplace Assessment: Reporting on “Lack of Accountability”
  2. The Recommendations Report and a Group Workplace Assessment
    1. Assessment Recommendations: Resolving “Lack of Accountability”
    2. A Group Workplace Assessment for Managers and Consultants 
  3. The Survey: Invitations and Results 
    1. Invitations to Take the Survey
    2. The Results Are In (Yes, there were Regional differences)
      1. ABCD Regions: Outdated equipment, Poor communication on change
      2. E Region: Quality and Training problems
      3. B & D Regions: Communication problems from staff cuts and restructuring 
      4. C Region: Too many unexpected “emergencies”
    3. Setup for Regional Meetings (Starting with Strengths)
  4. Sharing the Results and Holding Regional Meetings
    1. Sharing the Results: Emails and Attachments
    2. The Results Are In (Yes, there were Regional differences)
    3. Regional Meetings: The “Tackle First” List and the Conversation Groups
    4. Setup for the All-Staff meeting
  5. The All-Region Meeting: Implementation and Impact
    1. Introduction to the ‘Big Three’ Workplace Issues
    2. Introduction to Productive Conversations
    3. Problem-Solving – Before and After Lunch
  6. Problems and Solutions
    1. Work Plans and Next Steps
    2. Three Months Later: Follow-Up