The psychologist Carl Jung asserted that one should apply to oneself the same methods that one proposes to use with others, and to do so “with the same relentlessness, consistency and perseverance.” With this good principle in mind, the Metalogue team recently had a working session on the “Team Dialogue Indicator™”, an approach developed by our friends at The Right Conversation to look at how teams talk.
Their approach starts from a principle that is dear to our hearts – that the quality of conversation in a team affects what that team can achieve. We thought we’d take a look at the quality of our own conversations, with an eye to seeing how the indicator might work for clients who are interested in improving the effectiveness of their own senior team.
The model invited us to look at “core dimensions” of our conversations;
Voicing: how comfortable we are at expressing opinions and challenging each other
Inquiry: how keen we are to understand each other and how skilled we are at listening and productivity
Productivity: how useful and productive our conversations are
And also to examine the” influencing dimensions”
Power: what is the role of power and hierarchy in our typical conversations
Structure: how focused conversations are, and how much scope there is for flexibility
Attentiveness: how attentive and “present” we are
What did we learn? As for many teams, we discovered that a lot of what we do is just fine, and we have things to be proud of. We often encourage our clients to start with appreciating what works for them, before succumbing to the temptation to dive into finding and solving problems. The feeling and nature of a developmental conversation is very different if we start by working out how to amplify the good stuff.
However, just as you might expect, there were also areas where people had rather different experiences of our meetings, and some frustrations. I will draw a veil over these (confidentiality being another important part of our way of working), but the model offered us a very helpful way of surfacing some of these differences, and talking about them frankly and without blame.
We found ourselves in a rich and creative conversation about things we wanted to change, and with a commitment to review the quality of our conversations again once we’ve had a chance to try these experiments out. We think the indicator offers a useful model for teams who are serious about improving the quality of the work they do, but don’t know quite where to start. And we’ll let you know whether our changes stick.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to take a fresh and appreciative look at your own senior team, we’d love to hear from you.