Presentation on theme: "Handling Difficult Conversations in the Dual Career Context"— Presentation transcript:
1 Handling Difficult Conversations in the Dual Career Context Melissa DorfmanDirector, Dual Career Services, University of Michigan Medical School & College of EngineeringJune 4, 2012
2 Agenda What makes conversations difficult? Generally In the dual career contextStructures and processes to reduce difficult conversationsTools and methods for more successful conversations
3 Conversations are difficult when… …they involve content that is contentious…they make any of those involved feel vulnerable or put self esteem at risk…we care deeply about what is being discussed or the people with whom we are discussing it…they involve issues that are important or have uncertain outcomes…we fear the outcomes of the conversationSource: Stone, D. , Patton, B. and Heen, S., (2010), Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (New York, NY: Penguin).
4 Each Difficult Conversation Is Really Three Conversations What Happened / Should HappenIdentityFeelingsSource: Stone et . al.
5 Complexity: Dual Career in the Middle PartnerFaculty RecruitUniversity / College LeadershipUnit Hiring the PartnerRecruiting ChairRecruiting DeanDual Career FunctionArea LeadersConcerned Faculty Members
6 Multiple Sources of Information About Dual Career Situations External SourcesStories (direct and indirect) about other dual career situations from colleagues and personal contactsInformation from chairs, search committee chairs, faculty, administrators involved in recruitment / retentionInternal to the CoupleAssumptions and beliefsExperiences from other institutionsDifferent information shared with each partner
7 Range of Contexts: Potential Views of the Dual Career Function DistractionGreat UnknownDo It MyselfKey Tool
8 Contrary to expectations Do not meet unspoken assumptions Part of the Job: Dual Career as a Communicator of Decisions / InformationContrary to expectationsDo not meet unspoken assumptionsAre surprising and for which the recipient is not preparedUltimately have undesired implicationsFor recruitment or retentionFor faculty life choicesFor budgets
9 Reduce the Likelihood of Difficult Conversations So What Can We Do?Processes and structures to improve communications and foster collaborationReduce the Likelihood of Difficult ConversationsTwo way conversationsThe ladder of inferencePrepare Ourselves for More Effective Conversations
10 Setting Expectations with Partners in the Initial Conversation 1Request resume or cv prior to initial conversation and circulate to get feedbackProvide general information about dual career services at the University of MichiganWho is eligible for services?When are they eligible?What are services?Debunk mythsServices are only available to a partner until a faculty recruit signs an offer letterDual career services = placement; “you will take care of my job search for me”There are no jobs in MichiganUnderstand partner’s situation and job search goalsWhere in decision process is the couple?What are the partner’s professional goals?What are the key criteria, other than content, for a position (salary, commute, title, specific responsibilities)?Are there any timing or visa issues of which I should be aware?Will the partner need a visa?What has the partner done so far to find a job?Discuss and assign responsibilities for next steps2345
11 Setting Expectations with Key Internal Constituents About the Dual Career Process and Numbers Routinely update Associate Deans, department chairs, search committee chairs or other relevant administratorsPlan an annual meeting or report to share data on the past year’s recruiting process Use data to highlight key points and trends, e.g.,Number of dual career couples helpedPercent of recruits requiring dual career helpTime to hireShare best practices for working together to recruit or retain dual career couplesGet the word out early that dual career help is availableCommunicate early and often to DirectorYour help in identifying and reaching out to potential contacts is helpful, but communicating the content of these discussions to the Director is criticalKeeping the Director up to date about your search committee decisions and key time lines is critical to ensuring that we are coordinated in our effortsRespond to questions from the Director or Associate Dean in a timely wayIf you are hiring someone who will be a cross-departmental or cross-school hire, figure out who is on point and ensure all communications are coordinated
12 Broadening the Communications Process to Involve Key Constituents Direct communications, catalogued as sent or notesDual Career ProfessionalPartnerRecruiting Chair, Dean, Search Committee ChairBlind copy key constituents on important communications1Make key constituents aware of important developments and ask for guidance on communication before sharing with the partner2Share timeline / data on dual career process with constituents to set expectations3
13 Skilled at interpersonal interactions Accessible Identifying a Broker to Assist in Facilitating Progress in Dual Career SituationsSenior academic administrator with respect of chairs and search committeesKnowledgeable about:Dual career and university processesOrganizational prioritiesSkilled at interpersonal interactionsAccessibleCan get more senior administrators involved if necessary
14 Taking the Direct Approach to Difficult Content Set a common agenda for the conversation and then ask the other person if s/he has things to be discussed in addition to what you’ve proposedAgree on an order for the topics of your conversationFor each topic, start with the content that matters mostAvoid “easing in” to make it easier on the other personDelivering bad news: directly share the information, followed by the data and interpretations that support conclusionsMaking requests: avoid making a demand. Instead, invite conversation about whether what you want is appropriate. “I wonder if it would make sense…”Name difficult dynamics either in the conversation or the dual career process to make them discussableSource: Chris Argyris & Action Design; Stone et . al.
15 The Ladder of Inference I Reach ConclusionsAssumptions Influence What I SelectI Interpret the DataI Select Some DataPool of DataSource: Proprietary intellectual property of Monitor Group. Chris Argyris, Partner of Monitor Group.
16 Telling Your Story Clearly, With Room for Conversation Present your conclusions as your (or others’) perspective, rather than “the truth”Goal to distinguish fact from opinionShare the source of the conclusionsBoth data and assumptionsMay be difficult in the dual career arena if you are delivering indirect news or conclusionsStop periodically to ask for reactions and questionsSource: Proprietary intellectual property of Monitor Group. Chris Argyris, Partner of Monitor Group.
17 Three Skills for Active Listening InquiryInquire to learnOpen ended questions – “Help me understand better…”Ask for more data – “Say more about…”Avoid leading questions that are really disguised statementsParaphrasingCheck your understanding“What I hear you saying is…”“Just to make sure I’m follow, is what you’re saying…”Take time to acknowledge the other person’s feelings, even if they are not explicitly introduced into the conversation“This is likely frustrating / difficult to hear”“It sounds like you are really upset by this”Acknowledge before jumping to problem solvingAcknowledge-mentSource: Stone et . al.
18 Two-Way Conversation Checklist When beginning the conversation…Create a mutual agendaExplain your intentions and purposesAsk for theirsWhen exchanging your perspectives…Sharing Your ViewExplain your viewConclusionsReasoningExamplesAsk the other personHow are they reacting to your view?What is their view, independent of your view?Understanding Their ViewListen for understandingAsk for examplesParaphrase and ask to check for understandingIf reasoning or date is unclear, askDeepen your understanding and others’ understanding if you see things differentlyExplain your view and give examplesAsk what you might be missingWhen finishing your conversation…State any lingering concerns you may haveAgree on concrete next steps you each can takeSource: Proprietary intellectual property of Monitor Group. Chris Argyris, Partner of Monitor Group.
19 Two Column Exercise (1 of 2) What We ThoughtWhat We SaidM: Phew, I’m glad this letter finally got out. There’s been a lot of pressure from and this is a great offer.Melissa: Thanks for making time to talk with me. We were very excited to get the offer letter to you and Josh is looking forward to working with you. I understand you have some questions about the details of the letter and we may have some room to negotiate the terms of the offer since this wasn’t the final offer letter. I know that John’s offer deadline is in a few days, so I want to help address your concerns.C: How can the University of Michigan think I would go there without some significant incentive?Cathy: I got the letter and I can’t believe that this is what was offered to me. I am a graduate of a top tier Ph.D. program and am doing a post-doc at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. I got the letter from Josh and can’t even consider it. How did this happen? How is it that I am being offered this?M: I am shocked! I thought this met her needs. I guess I’ll talk about the process…Melissa: Well, after your interview, you and I talked about the faculty members you met with and I also asked for their input. Together we landed on Josh as the best fit for your interests and it went from there.C: My advisors have told me this is a dead end job.Cathy: I don’t even know what to say. This is just so beneath what I expected. I’m furious.M: I wish I understood the issue…Melissa: Your reaction is somewhat surprising to me. I thought this offer met the criteria for a position that we’d talked about a few weeks ago.C: What is she not getting? The title was critical!Cathy: This is a Research Investigator position. How does that meet what I told you I wanted?M: I’m going over and over this in my mind and can’t figure it out…but I don’t have my notesMelissa: Well, you told me that you wanted a position on the Research Scientist track. The Research Investigator position is the first step in that track. Do you remember the document we discussed about the research track options and positions in the College of Engineering and the requirements for the each position?
20 Two Column Exercise (2 of 2) What We ThoughtWhat We SaidC: How man y times do I have to tell her the same thing?Cathy: This offer is for nothing but a glorified post-doc. With my credentials and publications, you should have offered me an Assistant Research Scientist position.M: Okay, here is my chance to explain the process. Does she think she’s somehow exempt from the same criteria the department uses to review all candidates for faculty positions? C: I had no idea the chair couldn’t just offer me what I wantedMelissa: Josh determined the right position to offer you based on input from the chair of his department. Your appointment will have to go through an approval process both within the department (including a faculty vote) and then at the College level. The department has its own criteria for positions and the chair evaluated your level of experience including publications, research independence, talks – the whole thing. He believes that the department will approve a Research Investigator appointment and that this is appropriate for someone with one year of post-doc experience. We also have time-in-rank limits (3 years for Assistant Research Scientists) and so he’s also thinking about how much time you will need to be ready to be promoted to the next level, especially when you are making a transition in your research focus.C: I need to get input more input from people I trust about the career implications of this jobCathy: I didn’t understand this at all, that anyone would be involved in reviewing and voting on my position. Why didn’t you tell me? I just can’t accept this Research Investigator job. I need to go think about this and get some more information.M: All I can do is get more information from the departmentMelissa: Well, why don’t I go back to Josh and to the chair to get some more information about Research Investigator and Assistant Research Scientist requirements?C: I need to talk with my husband. Why doesn’t he just take the position with the more prestigious school?Cathy: Fine. Thank you for your help. I’ll be back in touch.
21 Two Column Exercise Time Directions 5 minutes Divide into pairs Write about a recent difficult conversation using the two column template.20 minutesShare your conversation with your partner and discuss what you could have done differentlyDebrief key lessons learned as a large group
22 Types of Difficult Conversations in the Dual Career Context Delivering bad newsPartner did not get a jobPartner will not be considered by a unit or companyHiring unit has negative feedback to share about the partnerDebunking assumptionsIdentifying problematic dynamics or behavior in the job search processAsking for contribution or compromise that is undesirable
24 Learning Pathways Context Framing Actions Results React Reframe When having a conversation, consider:The constraints, resources and factors that create context – what influences the conversationThe way you are framing the conversation – what you are thinking at each of the levels of the conversation (what happened / should happen, feelings, identity)The way you are acting – what you say and doThe results you get – whether or not you reach the desired outcomeSource: Proprietary intellectual property of Monitor Group. Chris Argyris, Partner of Monitor Group.
25 One Way vs. Two Way Feedback FramingActionsImpose my purposes on the other or assume our purposes are similarState my view, but not how I arrived at it or make disclaimers to soften the blowDo not ask the other their views or instead, ask leading questionsSomeone is to blame (you or me) for an unwanted outcomeGiving negative feedback can be upsetting and that is badI have to be certain of the truth before I give feedbackMy options are to deliver the truth or withdrawOne WayBoth may have contributed to a negative outcome in ways we cannot seeNegative feedback can be upsetting and that’s okay, as long as we both remain open to learningIt’s okay to have a strong point of viewMy task is to develop a shared understanding of what happened and where to go from hereCheck my purposes with the other and ask about their purposesExplain my view, how I arrived at it with conclusions, reasoning and examplesAsk the other for their reaction to my view and for their viewAsk what I contributed to the situationAsk how I can help and suggest what the other might do differentlyTwo WaySource: Proprietary intellectual property of Monitor Group. Chris Argyris, Partner of Monitor Group.
26 Blind Spots What I Can See What I Cannot See What I am up against What I am trying to doHow you do what you doWhat effect you have on meHow I do what I doWhat effect I have on youWhat you’re up againstWhat you’re trying to doSource: Proprietary intellectual property of Monitor Group. Chris Argyris, Partner of Monitor Group.