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Doctoral Project Abstract

The Five Conversations: How Supervisors Release the Potential of their Workforce

Fred Soto

The Need: First-line supervisors, as the nexus between Government policy and action, are critical to productivity, employee engagement, and workplace fairness. Because a supervisor's primary responsibility is to accomplish work through others, supervisory positions-even at the first level-have distinctive responsibilities and skill requirements. Even when it is essential, technical competence alone does not enable supervisors to effectively perform critical supervisory functions. Communication expressed through supervisory conversations with employees is an essential basic function of motivation and management in any organization. Conversations help to transmit information, suggest ideas, inspire thoughts, and communicate plans to the employee which also supports successful human relations.

Inspiration: The course is inspired by Winston and Patterson (2006) Integrative Definition of Leadership where leaders present a vision in contrast to the present status of the organization and through critical thinking skills, insight, intuition, and the use of persuasive rhetoric and interpersonal communication including active listening and positive discourse. In this view, the leader facilitates and draws forth the opinions and beliefs of the followers through conversations. These conversations help the followers to move through ambiguity toward clarity of understanding and shared insight that results in influencing the follower(s) to see and accept the future state of the organization as a desirable condition worth committing personal and corporate resources toward its achievement. The workshop helps leaders to achieve the common and greater good for themselves and the follower through five conversations and the application of Federal Human Capital Management principles.

Project Objectives: In addition to effective dialoging with employees, the objectives of the project include teaching supervisors what they need to know to hire, onboard, manage performance, discipline and reward employees. The curriculum organizes these functions under five conversations which are explained below:

  • Conversation #1: "I need help."- Working with your Human Capitol Advisor to recruit the candidate you need
  • Conversation #2: "Welcome!"- On-boarding employees with the information, support and community they need to succeed
  • Conversation #3: "Your Path to Success!"- Setting performance goals and discussing performance
  • Conversation #4: "We need to talk." - Holding employees accountable for results and discussing performance issues
  • Conversation #5: "Well done!" - Employee Rewards, Motivation and Recognition

Requirement: The Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004, at 5 U.S.C. 4121(2) emphasizes that effectiveness and efficiency of Government programs depend on well-trained managers. Mandatory supervisory training ensures managers receive this training and will help develop effective managers who foster positive work environments that produce results for a responsive Government.

Deliverable: The project consists of three day training session with all the handouts, presentations, in-class exercises, and the copy for the marketing people to develop all the advertising pieces. The project equals more than a 'semesters-worth-of-work' -- six credits, equal to about 160 hours or four weeks of labor.

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