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Business research methods: using questions and active listening

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2 Business research methods: using questions and active listening

3 Module Learning Outcomes
On completion of this module you will be able to: Work independently within an organisation, demonstrating initiative and commitment Review the literature relating to a business issue Analyse valid and reliable evidence to draw sound business conclusions Write a coherent project report communicating a solution or response to the business issue Reflect on your working practices in relation to your Personal Development Plan In this module, we will focus on both the theory and application of the theories and approaches to using business research skills and professional skills to investigate a live business issue. The aim here is to to prepare you for a career in the global business environment as a manager/leader . In order to achieve this goal, we need to understand the aims of business research, the context where our research will take place, and the skills required to work independently and with others to deliver a relevant insight into organisations. Throughout this module, we need to recognise that organisations do not exist in isolation, and that there is a constant interaction and interdependency on the external environment. Most actions will be influenced by their understanding of the combination of individual, group, organisational and environmental factors. The style of these Knowledgecasts will be to introduce and discuss a range of critical factors related to the role and skill set of leaders in the global business environment. From these Knowledgecasts, we will often explore one area in more detail in our seminar. For each Unit, you will be directed to some initial further reading however we expect you to read around the topics to build your own critical evaluation of the topic and develop you own original perspective on the role of training and development in organisations.

4 Module Overview: 303LON and 308LON
Week 6 Unit 1 An Introduction to Workplace and Workbased Projects Unit 2 Business research methods: an introduction Unit 3 Business research methods: data sources Unit 4 Business research methods: questions and active listening Week 7 Unit 5 Business research methods: project management skills Unit 6 Business research methods: using reflection in research Unit 7 Business research methods: writing professional reports Unit 8 Making a successful impact on your Workplace and Workbased project Week 8 Workplace or Independent Research Week 9 Week 10 Unit 9 Project Updates – Individual Presentations Unit 10 Individual Progress Review Unit 11 Unit 12 Module Review It is likely that each class will be made up of students who will be following: 303LON Workplace Project and 308LON Work-based Project A key point to make at this stage is that all students will be investigating a key business issue and developing: Key professional skills Key business research skills Key teamworking skills A key differentiator is how students will be gathering data: All students will be gathering secondary data Workplace students will have the opportunity to gather primary and secondary data available from within an organisation

5 Unit Learning Outcomes
On completion of this unit you will be able to: Assess how the use of questioning techniques can be used to gather primary and secondary data in support of a research question Creatively use the keyword search in research databases to identify a broad range of secondary sources in relation to the goals of your research Practice using questioning techniques to build rapport with participants to encourage an open and honest sharing of information In this Unit, we are going to: Assess how the use of questioning techniques can be used to gather primary and secondary data in support of a research question Creatively use the keyword search in research databases to identify a broad range of secondary sources in relation to the goals of your research Practice using questioning techniques to build rapport with participants to encourage an open and honest sharing of information The teaching and learning style of each unit will include: Review and feedback of independent or group work outside the seminar Knowledgecast slides to bring to life your reading Seminar discussions and activities to apply key ideas and prepare for independent and group work The learning styles in this module will therefore include: Active participation in group discussions and activities to develop and practice a range of professional business skills Using one-to-one and small group activities to reflect on and develop your understanding of the topics Open and honest sharing of feedback to support your ongoing development of key personal and professional skills Individual reflection on key learning and active development planning

6 Business Skills: Project Stages
Source: Cameron (2009: 378) Cameron (2009) outlines a set of specific stages that are followed in the production of a research project. It is these stages that you will follow and complete in the delivery of your End of Module Assessments. (The numbers refer to Chapters within the textbook). Key points here include: Each stage requires the use of a set of business skills This is not a linear process, with revisions and redefinitions being made across each stage through the process of learning, analysis and synthesis Requires project management skills to carefully plan, organise, implement, coordinate, control and monitor The selection of the topic will be the focus of Unit 2. Workplace students will be focusing on a business issue facing their work placement organisation. Workbased students should be focusing on an organisation or industry that will help them focus on their next career move

7 Stages of Research – Up to Unit 8
Identify Research Area Formulate Research Questions Create Research Design and Methodology Write Research Proposal Complete Literature Review Collect and Analyse Data Write Up Research Findings In order for managers and leaders to make effective decisions, they need to rely on a broad range of information. In your studies, you will be learning and practicing the skills required to collect, interpret and present this type of critical business information. You can use these same skills in the workplace to influence and lead the decision making process. When approaching a piece of research, there are a number of core stages that new researchers will be typically asked to complete in the design and delivery of their research findings. In our last Unit, we begin to look at the stages required to turn your research area into a specific set of research aims and objectives or questions. In this Unit, we are going to look at how we can use questions and active listening skills to further refine our research topic and work effectively with others to achieve your research goals. In our seminars, we will work through each of the highlighted stages above to get to help you produce your research plan or research proposal. This will take us up to Unit 8, before you move on to your work placement or independent study period.

8 Research Topic: Progress Presentations
Organisation What is the organisation you are focusing on in your research? Objectives or Questions What are the research aims and objectives? Existing Knowledge What existing knowledge has your initial research ? Resources and Methods What resources and methods will help you achieve your objectives? At the end of Unit 3, students were asked to work on the following Priority Actions and be ready to present back their findings: Confirm your research topic and research questions What knowledge and research exists on this topic? What range of secondary sources can you access? What type of data will you be gathering to answer your research questions? This information was going to help them to complete and submit their Learning Plan. Use this first slide to help facilitate a review of Unit 1-3 and how this has been reflected in the Learning Plan. Ask one student from each work group to present back using the following questions. This is information that should have been submitted in each student’s Learning Plan (via to by Unit 4. The purpose of this first part of the seminar is to: Give students an opportunity to develop their presentation and communication skills when discussing their goals, strengths and development areas with others List the key skills that students will be focusing on in their study of this module Explore how the work groups have begun to learn together through the sharing of their research topics Reinforce the importance of students use of reflection and action planning of their continuous professional development

9 Problem Definition: Using Literature
Literature Searches Can help you to: Clarify your research question Inform your own research design Set your research in context of existing knowledge and practice – both academic and in practice We have considered so far in this module the process of developing a research topic, then formulating a research aim and a set of research objectives or questions. Many of you will now be familiar with the non-linear nature of this process –through the discussion and investigation into existing knowledge, you are clarifying and redefining your key terms. Bryman and Bell (2007) argue that students and researchers will continue with this non-linear process throughout the duration of their research. A key point, however, to emphasise is that we need to ensure that we complete our plan (or research proposal) based on our best understanding of the features of our research subject. In this unit, we will focus on how we can use questions to: Think creatively in our research into existing knowledge to better refine our research aim and questions Build rapport with others who can assist us in the research process from problem definition through to gathering data Enhance our concentration and understanding of the data that could be provided by participants in our research You will already be familiar with the types of sources used in academic and business reports. Literature reviews should generally be based on secondary sources such as: Academic journals Academic books Conference papers Research reports Professional body research Considerations about the literature that you find in your searches include: The age and reliability of the information gathered The relevance to your own research question What citations are used by the author as a potential lead to new sources of information Make the link back to good note taking: Remember to record the references for any secondary source that you come across This will save you time and effort when you come to draft your research report

10 Problem Definition: Using Keywords
To identify suitable references in online databases, you need to work out keywords to enter into the search engine Use Business dictionaries to define your area of research and identify changes in the language used to describe the subject personnel management is now more commonly referred to as human resource management Think of synonyms performance management may be referred to in practitioner publications as ‘employee evaluation’ or ‘appraisal’ Source: Bryman and Bell (2007) Some of the challenges in using literature searches can be: Finding too many sources Not finding enough relevant or appropriate sources One of the key barriers that researchers find is that they can often be too restrictive or limited in their searches. Using a range of key words in your search can: Provide a range of insights from different authors on your topic Provide a diverse set of perspectives of looking at your topic Generate new ways of looking at your topic and lead to redefining your research aims and objectives Ask the group to brainstorm a set of alternative search words from a common topic from their previous presentations. An example could be APPRAISALS: Line management skills Feedback Communication skills Motivating others Group dynamics Conflict in teams Restructuring criteria Documentation Promotions Talent management

11 Problem Definition: Using Literature
What is already known about this area? What concepts and theories are relevant to this area? What research methods and research strategies have been employed in studying this area? Are there any significant controversies? Are there any inconsistencies in findings relating to this area? Are there any unanswered research questions in this area? Source: Bryman and Bell (2007) One of the challenges of using a literature search is ‘when to stop?’. Bryman and Bell (2007) suggest that we can use this criteria or checklist to consider whether we have been able to identify the key features of our research topic. Key Question: What methods can you use to complete a literature search? Options include: Business Source Premier provides comprehensive full text access to certain key business and management journals including Harvard Business Review and Academy of Management Review, Indexing and abstracts for over 3,000 business journals Social Sciences Citation Index which fully indexes over 1,700 major social science journals covering all social science disciplines dating back to 1981 SSCI does not provide full text access to journals but does provide references, abstracts book reviews and editorial material General Market Information Database (GMID) contains marketing profiles, consumer market sizing, consumer lifestyle reports, data for over 200 countries, market forecasts to 2012, and information about 100,000 brands and 12,000 companies Mintel provides comprehensive market research reports on the UK retail and leisure sectors and conducts its own market research Reuters Business Insight provides access to hundreds of market research reports focused on: energy, consumer goods, finance, health care, and technology

12 Business Skills: Types of Questions
OPEN: “Tell me about…” PROBE: “Exactly what happened next? CLOSED: “How old were you then?” REFLECTIVE: “You feel upset about the move?” LEADING: “I suppose you are sorry now, are you?” HYPOTHETICAL: “What would you do if...?” MULTIPLE: “What about… and what did you think… and could you tell me…?” RHETORICAL: “After all, isn’t it the case that…?” RELAY: “What do other people think?” REVERSE: “What do you think we should do?” Completing your research into an organisational issue is going to require you to use good questions. This could include: Working with colleagues to help define your own research topic and strategy Working with colleagues to help define their research topic and strategy Discussing your progress with colleagues and Tutors Asking for help and advice on how to proceed or handle specific concerns You will also need to use questions to gather data as part of your investigation. This could include: Gathering primary data Clarifying your understanding of secondary data Gaining access to further sources of data There are a range of questions or question styles that we can use. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. For may of us, we are not aware of the types of questions we use – often until we are in situations where a rapport was not built effectively or that the required information was not acquired (or acquired easily).

13 Business Skills: Using Questions
QUESTION TYPE USEFUL NOT USEFUL OPEN: “Tell me about…” Encourages individuals to talk Starting a conversation Exploring new areas Gathering information With talkative people When you need to clarify information PROBE: “Exactly what happened next? Follows an open question to find out more detail Checking for more detailed information When exploring sensitive subjects where emotions could be involved CLOSED: “How old were you then?” Narrows context and establishes facts Probing single facts With people who are not talkative. REFLECTIVE: “You feel upset about the move?” Very powerful. Repeats back the emotional content of an individual’s statement. Establishing empathy Managing emotionally charged situations Checking the meaning of information and facts When planning any communication, we therefore need to consider how we can use questions to: Build rapport with key stakeholders Focus our attention on our purpose for communication Clarify and improve our understanding Acquire the desired data whilst improving the quality of the relationship with others Students will be asked to complete an audit on their listening and questioning style in advance of Unit 5.

14 Business Skills: Active Listening
Active listening is a key business skill for managers because it can help you: build relationships learn from others develop ideas work well in a team do well in interviews sell ideas - and yourself – in the workplace Source: Cameron (2009: 216) Cameron (2009) suggests that a key link in effective communication skills is the role of assertiveness – the link between talking and listening. Assertiveness requires you to: believe in your rights and your purpose express them calmly but firmly accept and express feelings prepare for anticipated conflicts persist until you are ‘heard’

15 Business Skills: Active Listening
Why don’t managers listen to other people? lack of interest in the speaker worrying about what you will say next inability to concentrate inability to understand insensitivity to underlying emotions active desire not to listen Source: Cameron (2009: 215) Key Question: Think of an example when you were not able to build a rapport with a person who you wanted help or support from, or that the conversation was more difficult and frustrating than it should have been. Consider the types of questions you used, and their clarity? To what extent were you actively listening? Ask the group to share an example, and what are their key learning points?

16 Business Skills: Active Listening
Active Listening requires you to listen at 3 levels Thinking – listening to the words Feeling – listening to the emotions Willing – listening for the real meaning Listening is a complex activity which requires a high level of commitment, concentration and genuine concern. It is not, as we tend to think, a passive role just because the speaker is doing most of the obvious input. Active listening requires the listener to develop and employ a number of key skills.  Listening at different levels There are three levels of listening:- 1. THINKING This is listening to the words used, the more logical overt sentences or phrases used by the speaker. Transcripts of conversations or speeches mainly convey messages at this level. 2. FEELING This is listening at the emotive level. Looking for the feelings which often accompany the spoken words. It requires the listener to focus on voice tones, hesitations etc., together with all aspects of non-verbal communication.  3. WILLING This means listening for the 'intent' behind what people say - even if they don't actually speak about any actions they might take. The listener should be able to sense whether the speaker would be prepared to act on what they are saying or what level of real commitment they have.

17 4 Active Listening Techniques
Summarising Shows you have been listening Allows you to clarify what you heard Asking Questions Develops rapport Gathers more information Remove Any Mental Distractions Focus your thoughts on the other person Use Body Language Be relaxed and open Summarising This means pausing occasionally to reflect back to the listener your understanding of what has been said. This indicates to the listener that you have actually been listening. It also enables correction of miscommunication and allows the speaker to 're-read' their conversation before moving on. (Paraphrasing is a useful form of summarising by which the listener uses more of their own words to reflect back.) Asking questions Asking questions is another way of demonstrating listening (providing it is not the type of question which simply moves the conversation towards the listener's interests). Open questions develop rapport and encourage the speaker to explore themes and issues. Probing questions can be used to get people to examine things more closely, or to look at inconsistencies. Acknowledging noises such as 'uhum' or repeating key words or phrases can also serve as 'questions'. Clearing your mind of distractions Very often people talk about subjects which have strong parallels with our own experiences or feelings. It becomes easy to wander off into our own thoughts and lose the thread of what the speaker is saying. It is important to push these things to one side as soon as you become conscious of them. Using your body language Your listening posture is very important. It should be relaxed, open and achieve the correct balance between rigidity or stuffiness and shuffling about. Eye contact and facial expression should also indicate appropriate responses. 'Mirroring' is a more advanced skill which requires the listener to subtly reflect the posture and gestures of the speaker. (It can also be applied to voice tone, volume, concern etc.) Some other things to avoid General distractions - noise; windows to look out of; papers on a desk; telephones; people walking in and out etc. Trying to think up your next 'clever' response. Pre-judging the person or what they might say. Filling an uncomfortable silence - a short silence might be helpful for the speaker to think things through. Excessive note-taking - may damage the atmosphere of the conversation Listening with the “hand on the door” syndrome.

18 Business Skills: Project Work
Unit 4 Priority Actions: Submit your final Learning Plan to by Unit 5 Submit your draft Research Proposal to by Unit 5 Complete the Good Listener Audit Be ready to present back in Unit 5 xxx

19 Knowledgecast Summary
Assess how the use of questioning techniques can be used to gather primary and secondary data in support of a research question Practice using questioning techniques to build rapport with participants to encourage an open and honest sharing of information Creatively use the keyword search in research databases to identify a broad range of secondary sources in relation to the goals of your research


21 Seminar: My Best Learning Experience
Person A – Person B Person B – Person A Where did it take place, when was it? What did you learn? How did you learn? How have you used what you learned? Person B can only listen to the answers Person B cannot ask questions or make notes. Person A listens to Person B and can: Take notes Take an active role in the conversation Ask questions to clarify details Person B presents back to Person A what they heard. How accurate was this? How much detail was remembered, Was it accurate? Person A presents back to Person B what they heard. Use this short exercise to allow students to practice using a range of question styles and using active listening to interview others and build a successful rapport.

22 Business Skills: Project Work
Unit 4 Priority Actions: Submit your final Learning Plan to by Unit 5 Submit your draft Research Proposal to by Unit 5 Complete the Good Listener Audit Be ready to present back in Unit 5 xxx

23 What are we going to cover next?
In our next Unit, we will: Review our progress on developing your research strategy Identify the key project management techniques to support the delivery of your project on time and with available resources Produce an action plan to prepare for your workplace and workbased study In our next Knowledgecast, we will: Review our progress on developing your research strategy Identify the key project management techniques to support the delivery of your project on time and with available resources Produce an action plan to prepare for your workplace and workbased study

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