Face to Face communication case study

24th September 2014
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Face to Face Communication case study

Needs analysis

‘The IT department have been through a lot over the last year or so, big change/restructure last year (resulting in quite a few redundancies).  At the same time, IT have had a lot going on in terms of big business projects (such as introducing new systems moving from Lotus notes to MS Office 2010). The focus is to increase the positivity of IT overall, understand their customers better (internal & external), taking time to get the customer needs right in the first place, before actioning a piece of work or commissioning a big project.’  (Jas Parmar, Thomas Miller, May 2014).

Objectives

To develop the IT department’s understanding of their internal and external customers through improved communication skills.

To build relevant skills; negotiating, building trust, increasing rapport, improving interpersonal skills.

Design

Research has shown that increased awareness to automatic signals of emotion – in this case micro facial expressions – is a key component of empathy, rapport and trust building. These expressions, together with other non-verbal elements, account for 50-90% of all communication. Enhanced understanding and practice in application are intended to meet the primary training objective.

It was agreed that the training and coaching should allow time for reflection by the participants between sessions. Training was in the form of a two and a half hour workshop, focused on introducing and applying micro facial expressions and gestures.

The group workshop was followed up three weeks later with half hour individual coaching sessions. These sessions were built around the specific communication needs of each participant.

A self-assessment questionnaire was undertaken prior to the workshops, immediately after it and again after three weeks. Participants were asked the following statements with responses on a Likeart scale. Levels of agreement ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

The statements were;

  • I am recognising micro expressions better/more than before.
  • I am more aware of changes in my immediate surroundings at work.
  • I am more confident when communicating with other people.
Implementation

The group workshop was undertaken on the 4th June 2014 in a meeting room on the client’s premises.

The one to one coaching sessions were undertaken on 30th June 2014, also at the client’s premises.

Transfer

To maximise knowledge retention the training was structured as follows;

  • Workshop content was customised as far as possible to the needs of the participants.
  • One to one coaching focused on the practical needs of the individual.
  • Role playing exercises using video feedback featured extensively in the training and coaching.
  • Video analysis and feedback focused on the non-verbal elements of communication.
  • Participants were provided with summaries of the key content to take away from the workshop.
  • Participants were given daily practice exercises to embed learning.
  • Self-assessment questionnaires were conducted at key stages of the training cycle.
Evaluation

After three weeks, 18 of the 21 self-assessment questionnaires had been completed. Of the seven delegates, none reported undertaking daily practice but all of them confirmed that they performed ‘occasional’ practice.

Results of the analysis of self-assessment questionnaires were as follows;

  • “I am recognising micro expressions better/more often than before”

The group recorded scores on average of 1 point more in agreement after 21 days compared with pre training assessment.

  • “I am more aware of changes in my immediate surroundings at work”

The group recorded scores on average of 1 point more in agreement after 21 days compared with pre training assessment.

  • “I am confident when communicating with other people at work”

The group recorded scores on average 1 point more in agreement after 21 days compared with pre training assessment.

Feedback and key learning points from the group training session

(Comments are anonymised)

1) “Better at recognising deception … I look around more”.

2) “Some pointers of things to look out for … I like the idea of micro expressions … made me more conscious of what I am doing”.

3) “I know what I am doing but it’s easier said than done”.

4) “You know a lot about facial expressions but its picking up that little bit more that makes the difference”.

5) “I am trying to baseline any changes I see in expressions, I am trying to get used to more observing people and not being accused of staring at them”.

6) “The main thing I learned was looking at the micro expressions and the changes in micro expressions rather than specific ones on their own”.

7) “It was good fun… it’s not huge change … I think it’s worth it … the important thing is not that I can read people’s expressions it’s that I am more aware.”

One to one coaching sessions; What are your priority communication challenges?
  • Dealing with the time constraints of others in project management.
  • Acting as an interpreter between ‘business people and IT people’.
  • To think about applying these skills before I step into a room.
  • To understand what is truthful and what is not in meetings.
  • How to build routines of self-awareness in my daily routines with people.
  • The change of core business systems and how people respond to change.
  • Managing people effectively and getting the best performance from them. 
Conclusions and next steps

Participants will be reviewed again at 60 days to assess their levels of learning and application.

The self-assessment scores have little statistical validity but they do point to commitment by participants to the training and coaching. The range of client needs, learning and feedback demonstrates the relevance of this communication development programme to individuals and teams within the organisation.

Based on the available evidence, the key issues would appear to be;

  • The communication between the business, the project managers, and the IT department would benefit from further attention.
  • The half hour coaching sessions were productive, but future training should allow more time for these sessions to build on initial skill development. The participants have only just started on their journey. More follow up would add more value.

Potential further training needs were identified as follows;

  1. Continued executive coaching with the current group of participants, concentrating on developing non-verbal communications skills, managing expectations, managing staff and colleagues and responsiveness to change.
  2. Extending the training to the immediate points of contact between this group and the rest of the business, with a focus on ‘authentic communication’.
  3. A scoping session across the rest of the business to establish common language and meaning as part of larger ‘authentic communication’ development programme.
  4. A ‘Train the trainer’ workshop to develop existing or future participants who show promise in this area, and keep knowledge and skills ‘in house’, making the most of existing resources.

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