Productive Conversations

Hear and be heard: innovative, drama-based training to give managers essential workplace conversation skills.

“Very important session that provides you with essential skills and tools as a line manager.”

Managers can overestimate their ability to hold productive conversations at work. Just as many of us believe we are above average drivers, they fall into the trap of thinking that because they talk to people all of the time, they must be pretty good at it. Yet 360° feedback from employees often suggests otherwise.

Whether holding conversations about operational tasks, performance and conduct issues, personal development or wellbeing, managers need to be able to hear as well as be heard. They must demonstrate understanding, ask good questions, stay silent when necessary, master their emotional responses, and recognise their biases and people preferences.

Our new half-day workshop uses immersive, drama-based content to help managers at all levels learn and practise the essential ‘soft’ skills needed to hold high impact, productive conversations with team members, peers, and superiors.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of participation, learners will:

  • Know how to hold productive conversations in a range of potentially challenging areas, including discussing workloads and tasking, performance and conduct issues, coaching, and wellbeing;
  • Understand why some conversations are much more difficult than others, the impact of internal narratives, and ways to manage one’s emotional reactions in the heat of the moment;
  • Recognise the key elements of good listening and how to balance it with person-centred empathetic questioning;
  • Learn how to give and receive timely constructive feedback, including recognising people’s strengths and contributions;
  • Explore how to nurture psychological safety and provide one-to-one support to meet emotional needs; and
  • Identify specific ways to put their learning into action and continue to develop and improve their managerial performance back in the workplace.

The Programme

Our half-day experiential, interactive training programme includes dramatised content (live and filmed) delivered by professional actors, alongside electronic voting, group exercises, and skilful facilitation. It is designed to be delivered to up to 20 people at a time in face-to-face workshops held either on-site at your premises or off-site at an appropriate venue.

The programme consists of the following modules.

Module 1: welcome and explanation of purpose; getting to know each other, outlining aims and objectives, and establishing norms for the workshop.
Module 2: where are we now; using electronic voting and facilitated group discussion to explore and benchmark how confident learners feel discussing a range of topics, how effective they believe they are, and why they avoid some conversations.
Module 3: interactive scenario – a quick word, please; a live action scene between a fictional manager and team member lets us explore what makes some conversations difficult and why they go wrong. We look at the brain science at work behind the scenes, the importance of self-awareness, and the need to engage ‘slow thinking’ to avoid being led astray by our assumptions and internal narratives.
Module 4: hearing and being heard; next we use small group exercises to look at what makes ‘good listening’ and the kinds of questions to ask and how to act when we do speak. Learners are also taught a practical model to help them give better feedback back in the workplace.
Module 5: interactive scenario – a one-to-one meeting; more live action in which learners get the chance to use stop-start ‘forum theatre’ to put what they have learned into action helping our fictional manager hold a productive conversation. Customers can choose whether they want this conversation to focus on a performance and conduct issue, employee development, or mental health and wellbeing.
Module 6: summary, action planning and evaluation; at the end, learners identify one or more practical actions they will take back in the workplace, before the session closes with a series of electronic polls to evaluate whether the session met its objectives.

Learning Into Action

We have been delivering training programmes to help supervisors, team leaders and managers get better at having productive conversations since the company started in 2011. In that time, we have had customers from a range of sectors, including utilities, leisure, and finance.

Results from in-session electronic polling include:

  • 53% of learners had previously avoided a ‘difficult’ conversation at work
  • 25% described themselves as reluctant to raise issues
  • 98% of learners increased their understanding of how to handle ‘difficult’ conversations
  • 95% gained ideas of actions they could take to be more effective in their role
  • 100% recognised the importance of listening for creating a more inclusive workplace
  • 98% of learners found the session worthwhile
  • 99% felt inspired to make a positive difference back in the workplace


If you are interested in running this training programme in your organisation, or if you simply want to ask a question about it, hit the button to contact us or call +44 (0)1484 310234.

Contact Us

Our Clients Include

National Grid
Genting Academy
Pension Protection Fund

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