Presentation on theme: "Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals"— Presentation transcript:
1 Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals An Approach to Difficult Conversations Presenter Philip Gardner VASSP Project ServicesVictorian Association of State Secondary Principals
2 What do you find difficult? What professional conversations have you had recently that you found difficult?ORWhat professional conversations do you expect to be difficult?
3 General Tips on School Culture Around Feedback Establish school’s protocols and procedures around feedbackBe clear on agreed behaviours, developed with staff inputHave regular conversations around expectations and rolesBe positive and supportive of team decisionsEstablish the 4Ps process for discussions:permission – what do you want me to do if…..?parameters – what are the things we will discuss?purpose – what are we trying to achieve in this discussion?process – how and when, outcomes, feedback
4 How we tend to listen For the problem/the fault in the argument For opportunities to sound intelligent/cleverFor a chance to say something funnyFor how I could sound importantTo information I want/For how it affects me [“meeting behaviour”]To external distractions – other noise, music, etcFor what’s going on for the other person/what’s it’s telling me bout themFor approval of what you have doneTo my own thoughts, not listening to the person at allTo be able to understand the problemFor how I can benefitFor the opportunity to one-up the other personFor what I need to do to help solve the problem [“teacher/leader/principal behaviour”]For how I can undermine the other person’s point of view or positionFor how I can change or end the conversation [“busy person’s behaviour”]. [Based on: Leadership Teams Development Program by Insight SRC & SACS Consulting]
5 The 4 pillars of organisational health EmpathyThe degree to which leaders understand the needs of staff membersClarityThe extent to which staff members have a sense of purpose and know what is expected of themEngagementThe extent to which staff members collaborate, share ideas and solve problems together, leading to a shared understanding and alignment of team goalsLearningThe extent to which staff members feel their efforts are being recognised and their capability is being developed through appropriate learning and development opportunities.Four Pillars developed by Insight SRC
6 Your role as leadersEmpathy – building trust, respect, and mutual understandingClarity – building dialogue, discussion, focus and accountabilityEngagement – building teamwork, empowerment, and shared ownershipLearning – building in feedback, personal growth and challenge
8 Work on me first…the first step to achieving the results we really want is to fix the problem of believing that others are the source of all that ails us” Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler
9 Task or relationshipWhen faced with a difficult conversation, it is important to balance the focus, thus avoiding:too much on the task (just tell them what they’ve done wrong and what you expect next time) ortoo much on the relationship (and by soft-soaping never really say what the problem is)For a discussion of this, see Viviane Robinson
10 Your team What behaviours do you expect of the leadership team? Are there behaviours that you tolerate in this team or the team that you lead that you know are counterproductive?Listen carefully to the people around you. Do you hear the language of responsibility? Or the language of blame and excuses?Does your team’s culture harbour any deep-seated excuses for poor performance?If there are issues of concern, how do you hold each other accountable?
12 Red zone traits A child mind state Red zone traits A child mind state. You can see any 2-5 year old showing some or all of these.Your attention is more focused on your own needs, agendas or outcomesYou tend to be pessimisticYou tend to be vigilant, looking for differences to your expectationsYou express negative emotions and thinking with high energyYou stay stuck in a problemYou tend to make global statements like "I always get the slow queue", or "You are always doing this to me" or "You never keep your room tidy”You tend to link your current mood or circumstances to any possible future states "I'll never get the job I want", or "This class will never learn" (tomorrow will be the same as today).You tend to be more impulsive, not being able to defer reward or gratification until a later (perhaps more appropriate) timeYou tend to ask poor questions like "Why did you do that?" or "Why are you always late?" (what useful answer is there to these?)Andrew Mowat
13 Blue zone traitsYour attention is more on the needs and outcomes of othersYou tend to be optimisticYou are calm, open, present and connected with othersYou make accurate (not global) observations like "I feel frustrated right now" or "Boy this is a slow queue" or "I see that your room is untidy”You find solutions, or more importantly, you help others find their own solutionsYou are able to isolate poor moods and unhelpful experiences to how it is just now, and that ‘tomorrow could well be better’You can manage impulses and defer rewards and gratificationYou ask better questions, like “What do you need to be able to arrive to class on time?” or “How might I think about this differently?” To be our best for others, whether it be as a leader, a teacher, a partner or a parent, we need to be in our adult (Blue Zone) mind state. From this mind state, we can resolve disputes, solve problems, manage behaviour (in others) and inspire others to action in a way that is impossible in the Red Zone.
14 What to watch forThink | Pair | Share Thinking about the last professional conversation you had that left you frustrated or annoyed, what was it about the person or the conversation that irritated you?
16 ListeningSeek first to understand, then to be understood (Stephen Covey)Ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are hearing what they are saying.
17 Pay attentionGive the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Recognize that what is not said also speaks loudly.Look at the speaker directly (make eye contact).Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal.Avoid being distracted by environmental factors.“Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
18 Show that you are paying attention Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.Nod occasionally.Smile and use other facial expressions.Note your posture and make sure it is open.Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.Don’t become distracted by electronic devices.
19 Summarising & Clarifying Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. e.g. “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…”Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…” “Is this what you mean?”Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?”
20 CoachingWho owns the solutions? People should be empowered to come up with their own solutions to challenging tasks.Use future-focused coaching questions rather than comments or judgementsWhere are you now?Where would you like to be in a year from now?What do you have to do to get there?How and when will you do it?Use your Leadership Team meetings to build a database of effective questions/strategies.
21 Questions to askWhere induction is required (e.g. someone says they build good relationships with my students):What does that look like in practice?If I came into your classroom, what would I look for that demonstrated that?Where deduction is required (e.g. someone says what happened in a classroom or describes the behaviour of a group of students):What did you learn from that?How would you approach that in the future?
22 How will you sustain success? Questions to ask once action has been decided:How will you ensure that you carry out these actions?What might get in the way? How can we address that?What needs to be different about your thoughts, feelings, behaviours or environment to ensure you carry out these actions?What support/structures are needed to maintain this? From Growth Coaching International “The Leadership Coaching guide”
23 Good listenersThink | Pair | Share Think about someone you regard as a good listener.What qualities do they display that makes them a good listener?
24 Cool conversations Warm Conversations The meetingCool conversationsWarm Conversations
25 What’s the meeting about? Warm – you are telling the person good things about their work (things they are doing well)Cool – you are telling the person something they don’t want to hear (areas of improvement)
26 Acknowledge the rocks, but don’t dwell on them… More financial support from the governmentSmaller class sizes; lower teaching allotmentsMore preparation time for teachersMore support staff to assist students - teacher aides, counsellors, social workers, etc.More supportive parentsThe abolition of national testingHigher teacher salariesFewer initiatives from the centreMore financial support for teachers’ PDBetter academic preparation of students in primary schools/lower levelsBetter facilitiesStudents with a stronger work ethic and reduced sense of entitlement based on article by Rick DuFour
27 Warm conversations Use frameworks to write positive comments E5 PoLT VITWorkshop this with your team.Point out to teachers that all reviewers are doing this to ensure consistency and the meeting of accreditation standards.
28 Is the team ready? Do all staff have the same expectations of: What they must do in preparation for the meetingWhat they must supply to the reviewer prior to the meeting, and how long before the meeting it will be suppliedHow long the meeting will run forWhat will be considered evidence of meeting the required standardsThe type and length of comments that will be writtenThe time it takes for the reviewer to complete/sign off the review
29 The Professional Conversation Framework That Uses A Growth Coaching Approach Identify a behaviour one of your team is demonstrating that you need to address. Tell your partner about this.What is current reality for you at the moment? Is there anything about the current reality that might give you cause for confidence that this behaviour might be positively addressed?What options do you have that might be worth pursuing as a means of achieving your goal?Now identify one of those actions that might best work for you. Commit to it.What strategies will you adopt to help you achieve this?What strategies will you adopt to ensure that you can embed this behaviour? How will you hold yourself to account? How would you help the person whose behaviour you want to address hold themselves to account?What feedback would you like to receive about the above, and who do you want to provide this? How? How will you respond to the feedback if you don’t agree with it? How will you address this issue with the person with whom you are conversing?
30 1. Do your homeworkAsk for material to be submitted prior to the meeting to allow you to look at it. This may include:Data – student results, surveysStudent workHave all facts at your disposal. This depend on the nature of the conversation. It could include:Student results (e.g from VCE data service)Complaints (e.g from parents and students)Advice (from Conduct and Ethics, VASSP or VGSA 2008 and its Implementation Guide if necessary). At this stage, the process should be managed by a member of the Prin Team
31 2. Be prepared Have an appropriate time and place for meeting Plan your comments - but don’t read from a script. Cover the points you want covered.Think about possible questions you may be asked and discuss these with a colleague. Rehearse/role play prior to meeting.Set up the room as you would like it, for all to be comfortableHave an appropriate time and place for meetingDon’t be rushed
32 3. Decide who will be at the interview Will anyone be with you?Offer same opportunity to staff memberDefine their roleIt may be one person both parties are happy with
33 4. Keep focused and on task Have an agenda / planFocus on the issue, not the personBe clear about the aim, expectation, outcomes and next step of the meetingPlan questions / dot points for responseWhen next you have this (difficult) student, what could you do differently?To be the best teacher you can be, what do you think you need to do more of / less of?Avoid deflections – acknowledge peripherals, but go straight back to the issue
34 5. Stay emotionally controlled Understand you can’t control someone’s response.Don’t engage in the emotion“I can see this is upsetting for you, but I would like to find a solution that works for everyone”Respond quickly to a situation, but hold the meeting later when emotions have cooled.Recognise that this meeting may be uncomfortable for both.
35 6. Listen actively to the person’s opinion Try to give person ownership of issue and solutionProvide an opportunity for the person to speak their mind, to tell their storyReflect on their opinion
36 7. Recognise when to hand over to the next level Should an Assistant Principal or Principal be involved?Is this a case for Unsatisfactory Performance or Misconduct?Would a support group be of help?Is counselling necessary?
37 8. Keep clear notes Restate what has been agreed at meeting Have a written summary and any other documentation collatedShare notes – both parties have a copyAssume these notes may be used in other forums (e.g. Merit Protection Board) and write them accordingly.
38 9. Use accepted frameworks Include areas which require improvement/are to be worked on. This is especially important where future action may need to be taken..Use phrases from DEECD documents for areas of improvement as well as for achievementsVIT accreditationE5 Instructional ModelPoLTWhatever framework you have agreed to/discussed
39 10. Invite a follow-up meeting if desired / necessary Enables debriefingWhere to from here?Encourage staff member to seek feedback from others if appropriate
40 A Difficult Conversations Framework Identify the purpose of the conversation, express it concrete, SMART goal terms.Explore current reality. What are the factors that inhibit what we might want to achieve? What factors might assist in moving things forward?What options are there that might be worth pursuing as a means of achieving the outcome?Now identify one of those actions that might be worth trying. Commit to it.What strategies might be tried to help achieve this?What strategies can be adopted to ensure that might serve to consolidate the action, to embed practice? How can we hold ourselves to account for following through with what we decide?How can we use feedback as a mechanism for ensuring progress?
41 ScenariosUsing one of the scenarios provided, practice the conversation you might have with the person. Do this in groups of three where:One person plays the role of the difficult personOne person is the leader who has to initiate the conversationOne person is an observer, looking for whether the conversation progresses along coaching guidelines. Keep notes for feedback.
43 How did it go? Seek feedback about the process with staff KeepTryChangeDiscuss what was agreed before the process was begun.
44 Where is your team?Goal - What does the team need to achieve in relation to difficult conversations?Reality – what is happening now?Options – What could you do?Will – What will you do?Tactics – How and when will you do it?Habits – How will you ensure you carry out these actions? Think | Pair | ShareWhat are the main things you think should be kept in mind for conducting difficult conversations?
45 Professional Development ReadingJohn Whitmore: Coaching for Performance (Nicholas Brealey)Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler: Crucial Conversations (McGraw-Hill)Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler: Crucial Confrontations (McGraw-Hill)Viviane Robinson “Open to Learning Conversations”Courses/ResourcesGROWTH Coaching ~Andrew Mowat ~Monash University ~