Strong Communication Skills: Step One to Building a Participatory Culture

February 13, 2013
Laura Beck, The Eden Alternative

Successful culture change calls on leaders to create an organizational culture that actively engages everyone in change initiatives.  Leaders who just pay lip service to creating a participatory ethos find out very quickly that they are building their culture change journey on quick sand.  Teams that aren’t getting the tools they need to “dig deep” and build a solid foundation for change quickly lose faith in leadership’s commitment to their success.

To create a participatory culture, leaders must back up their talk by providing the vital skills necessary to support this process. Without question, developing strong communication and conflict resolution skills across all teams should be the first tool set that leaders provide.  Growing a shared commitment to excellent communication eases the way for every other aspect of the change process.  So often, precious time is lost when agreed-upon communication guidelines are not in place to facilitate high involvement of all stakeholders.

It’s about so much more than knowing how to communicate well.  Teams need see, believe, and experience how solid communication and conflict resolution skills are the “connective tissue” for everything they will accomplish together.  Together, they need to own its value and prioritize it as the key to their success.  This way, they will hold each other accountable to excellent communication, and not just wait until leadership insists that they employ a particular communication protocol.  Facilitative leaders have the skills to convince teams that building a shared communication standard was their idea in the first place.  So, the teams themselves work together to envision how they will drive education and implementation to grow and support a shared communication and conflict resolution strategy.

On February 19th from 3-4:00 pm ET, five culture change experts will address this essential topic in an Eden Alternative Feature Webinar, Facilitating Effective Communication & Conflict Resolution.”  Panelists Sue Misiorski and Cean Eppelheimer of PHI, a culture change leader, will draw on practical wisdom from their “Coaching Approach to Leadership” series.  Susan Black, Michelle McParland, and Sue Miller of Exempla Colorado Lutheran Home, an Eden Registry Member, will round out the discussion by highlighting their organization’s team-driven development of a successful communication and conflict resolution skills initiative.

To explore this issue In your teams, consider the following Learning Circle questions:

  • How do we prioritize good communication skills in our organization?
  • What access do we have to educational resources to build our skills?  Which ones shall we agree to use?
  • What expectations should we have of each other when conflict arises?
  • How can we work together to develop a proactive intervention strategy that keeps us committed to excellent communication with each other over time?

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