In administrative assessment projects, we engage partners in several strategic ways — we assess the effectiveness of departmental configurations, appraisal practices, and processes. We especially love to collaborate with organizations and schools on building a Climate of Conversation.
A Climate of Conversation refers to a physical setting with formal and informal practices that support and encourage the exchange of ideas and observations within agreed upon notions of boundaries, effective feedback, trust, and collaboration.
Many studies have shown the impact of aspects of our definition of Climate of Conversation for effective operations in for-profit and non-profit entities. Innovation, staff satisfaction, and organizational performance are all consequences of leadership launching practices akin to a Climate of Conversation.
To assess where to begin and how to focus the organizational transformation to a Climate of Conversation, we explore four things (listed below). We provide an outline of the targeted areas and sub-areas to encourage the use of these ideas in part or wholly. When launching this transformation in-house or seeking a consultant’s specialization, consider these four things:
1 The individuals that comprise the organization
- How skilled are staff members at delivering effective feedback to colleagues and seniors?
- Are the relationships between staff and their supervisors characterized and experienced as partnerships?
- What is the history of giving and receiving feedback in the organization?
2 The leadership who sets the tone
- How skilled are organizational leadership at delivering effective feedback?
- Is the leadership optimistic and willing to extend a series of invitations to the staff to safely engage in formal and informal practices as part of a Climate of Conversation?
3 The furniture and coffee pot
- Are there explicitly recognized spaces for staff to congregate away from desks?
- What is the physical arrangement of organizational departments?
- What is the culture of desk time in the organization?
4 The formal processes
- Are employee appraisals conducted on a semi-annual schedule and reflective of other best practices?
- Are there formal guidelines for mentoring and supporting staff advancement?
- What is the history of professional advancement in the organization?
Finally, when your organization or school decides to undergo an assessment to shift to a Climate of Conversation — an innovative approach to operations for effectiveness on all fronts — announce the intentions to all personnel to pave the way for staff to witness how an organization undergoes transformation.