The Art (& Science) of Conversation in Business

The Art (& Science) of Conversation in Business

It’s good to talk. Feels like that has never been more true than it is in 2020 as we are all adapting to our neo-lives post COVID-19.

Staying connected with partners, friends, family and colleagues by having good conversations about our thoughts, feelings and everyday lives is vital to our mental health in an increasingly tech world. The art of conversation in business is alive and well, and getting a tech centric refresh for the 2020s!

Business Conversations

In a business sense, conversations don’t just mean office gossip by the virtual water cooler. The good quality ones are planned, open, strategic, honest, measurable and as much a part of employee’s everyday lives as their morning coffee. That means having a tool in place (like to capture and quantify the conversations and that the data it generates is then used to measure sentiment, track trends and monitor impacts towards a better work environment and more engaged employees.

The latter in turn contributes to business performance which experts in this space like Gallup, using their Q12* metadata, have clearly correlated and which companies are desperate to tap into. After all, people are often the biggest cost in a business but also arguably its greatest asset and market differentiator so something to value and protect.

The data generated from all these great conversations will be vast and possibly overwhelming but analysed and correlated with other data sets in the right way will provide new insights for your business to guide future initiatives and improved business performance.

The Science of Conversations

That’s where the science of conversations comes in. For example:

  • How sentiment changes when major business disruptions happen and how to learn from such events to preserve employee engagement next time around … think “people continuity” not just “business continuity”
  • The impact of the Manager on individuals and teams and what variables might be driving conversation quality where coaching or training programmes could help by benchmarking across manager types/experiences and scores
  • Measuring those initiatives which have the biggest impact on positive sentiment and business performance by tracking changes over time and pinpointing key changes like a new CEO or new diversity policy

Put another way, what you measure is how you behave, and having clear and continuous data on which to measure your conversations will enable organisations to identify where the focus should be so that the rest of the time can be spent on ideas and solutions.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read recently that “data is the new gold” and if you agree, then human data must be the equivalent of the crown jewels for both employees, businesses and society at large.

Sue Temple, September 2020

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