Managing Critical Dialogues in a Fast-Paced Workplace

This 5-day workshop is designed to improve our ability to communicate under difficult circumstances.  It draws on relevant current literature on communications and presents workable strategies that managers can apply immediately.  The workshop addresses concepts of communications as well as related concepts that are often the source of poor and disrupted communications.  They include:

•Conflict management and negotiations
•Facilitation of group work and development of consensus
•Project management and the communications related to projects
•Decision making and analysis, which informs our ability to communicate with managers and other stakeholders
•Financial analysis and budget communications
This workshop is compliant with the project management methods established by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), the world’s largest and most respected association of project managers.

Course Outline

Day 1: Introduction to Communications Challenges and Strategies

  • The types of changes being required of individuals in the workplace and their typical responses to those necessary changes:  We’ll examine a model of organizational performance and the levers for convincing employees and others of the need for change and improving their buy-in to changes.

  • The various diverse audiences that managers need to communicate with:  We’ll examine a simple model for characterizing the communication style of the individual.  We’ll also examine some of the most prevalent types of behavioral diversity caused by cultural factors.  Last, we’ll examine the differences in employee behavior related to age.  We’ll look at the differences in philosophy and behavior between young and old workers and the range of possible behaviors in between.

  • The most difficult types of communications and development of strategies for improving communications and interactions with other units:  We’ll identify effective strategies for communicating effectively and getting and keeping the attention of those we are communicating with.  We’ll identify the specific challenges of changing minds and crafting messages that respond to the specific interests of the person or group we are communicating with.

Day 2: Conflict Management and Negotiations

  • The “old” model of conflict management:  We’ll examine positional negotiations, the challenges and limitations of positional negotiations.

  • The “new” model of conflict management, including interest-based negotiations, application of interest-based negotiations, strengths of interest-based negotiations:  We’ll examine methods for preparing for the negotiations, identifying interests, identifying issues, and crafting solutions.  We’ll apply interest-based negotiations to the case study.

  • Analysis of the characteristics of high-performing teams:  We’ll identify the tools we can use to build high-performing teams and build a plan for the enhancement of team performance

Day 3: Project Management and Communications

  • The necessary dialogues required to get a project started correctly:  We’ll describe the role of the project charter, the business purpose of the project, assumptions, constraints, and managing stakeholder expectations.

  • Project scope: We’ll examine ways for ensuring agreement about what the project will produce.  We’ll engage in identification of product and project scope, the work breakdown structure, and managing scope changes

  • Managing project risk:  We’ll describe project risk identification and tracking, creating risk response plans, methods for reducing the critical risks of your projects

  • Project communications:  We’ll describe methods for ensuring that project communications are clear and adequate, and the role of project communications and the challenges of effective communications. In this module, we’ll examine the importance of effective and constant communications in projects.  We’ll describe the challenges facing most project managers and the shortcomings of inadequate communications.  We’ll also examine communications models and the role of noise in the project communications channel.

Day 4: Decision-Making and Analysis

  • Techniques for identifying the root causes of business problems:  We’ll describe methods for gathering information, applying root-cause diagrams and analysis, and identifying causes that are susceptible to corrective action.  We’ll engage in an exercise to apply the concepts we’ve learned.

  • Identifying and managing process quality:  In this module, we’ll examine the fundamentals of indentifying the requirements for business process and describe the challenges of identifying user definitions of quality and the tools for eliciting accurate requirements for business processes.  We’ll describe the attributes of requirements and techniques for analyzing and documenting requirements.  Last, we’ll examine the methods for ensuring that processes meet quality requirements.

Day 5: Financial Analysis and Budget Communications

  • Tools for financial analysis:  In this module, we’ll introduce techniques for financial analysis including net present value and internal rate of return.  We’ll examine how the use of those techniques can improve our ability to communicate with key stakeholders.

  • Budgets and budget issues:  In this module, we’ll identify the issues related to managing and communicating about budgets and budget problems.  We’ll identify key vocabulary and methods for identifying and meeting the financial interests of our stakeholders.

  • Application exercise:  In this module, we’ll apply the concepts we’ve learned to a case study and develop strategies for communicating with our stakeholders about our budget and financial issues.


This workshop is targeted to managers and business professionals who are engaged in complex projects or operations.  An understanding of organizations and business processes is recommended.