Leadership ‘White Space’ Conversations™

Helping leaders to understand what the conversation is really about

How does the CEO find out what his/her key managers really think about the business and where it is headed? How do they get to tap into the daily conversations that go on in the ‘white spaces’ between the organisation’s formal processes and structures? Through the annual engagement survey? By talking to people during shopfloor visits? By relying on being told the ‘truth’ in meetings? Maybe, but not necessarily. For many different reasons leaders are not always told the whole truth, which means vital feedback is often not heard – as a result of which changes in leadership direction, tone and message are that much harder to make.

Leadership ‘White Space’ Conversations™

‘White Space’ Conversations™, as we refer to them, provide a powerful process of regular ‘off the record’ conversations with a sample of the management population on behalf of the CEO. The purpose is simple – to provide the leadership team with honest insight into the conversations going on amongst the people who matter most – the senior leaders and managers of the organisation. Conversations they would not otherwise get to hear.

How it works

On a regular basis a random sample of the management population is invited to take part in 30-minute telephone conversations to discuss in broad terms:

  • How they feel about the organisation and where it is headed
  • What concerns them most
  • Their reactions to recent decisions and announcements
  • Anything else they would like to discuss

These conversations are anonymous and deliberately loosely structured to allow participants to say what they really want to say without being forced into answering a long list of pre-determined questions. Conversations are led by an experienced consultant who understands the strategic and organisational issues and who is able to have ‘peer level’ conversations. The findings are summarised in a simple document that highlights the key themes and issues.

The Benefits

The benefits are numerous – honest feedback from the people what matter most; an opportunity for participants to speak freely; fast, cost-effective and discreet; a clear signal of intent from the CEO to listen and to engage in conversation. Most importantly, it generates valuable dialogue at the top of the company.