Fierce Communication: A Publishing Company Transforms Its Culture of Agreeability into One of Candor and Collaboration

Talent Development, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Fierce Communication: A Publishing Company Transforms Its Culture of Agreeability into One of Candor and Collaboration


The following story was shared by Halley Bock, president and CEO of Fierce Inc.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLIENT

Taunton Press, a Connecticut-based special-interest publishing company

PROBLEM

Taunton employees were bogged down by a shared communication style that led to endless meetings and less-than-effective teamwork, which stalled the company's productivity. The leadership team wanted to help its employees communicate more effectively and allow for all to express their opinions on projects.

DIAGNOSIS

An attitude of "terminal niceness" had infiltrated parts of Taunton. Because they didn't want to offend one another, employees chose to be agreeable rather than engage in direct, transparent, and candid conversations.

METHODS

Taunton chose to work with Fierce to accomplish three goals: move the culture toward more open and honest communication; learn to implement company initiatives with active participation and clear accountability; and establish a decision-making structure to empower employees to perform with agility.

Fierce began by training 70 managers and 18 "Fierce champions"--individuals who would be prepared to sustain the knowledge learned beyond the training--through a two-day off-site program. Led by the idea that robust, transparent conversations are necessary in business, Fierce taught participants three conversational models:

* delegation--how to establish appropriate levels of decision making * confrontation--how to tackle a tough interpersonal conflict and deal with performance and attitudinal issues in a way that enriches the relationship

* coaching--how to create an environment where managers work to improve employees' problem-solving abilities for greater performance Fierce champions received an extra half-day of training, and from the three models chose a specialty in which they would coach other employees. They established three subcommittees to develop training, public relations, and measurement plans for implementation within the organization. …

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