PRAISE FOR CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
“Relationships are the priority of life, and conversations are the
crucial element in profound caring of relationships. This book
helps us to think about what we really want to say. If you want
to succeed in both talking and listening, read this book.”
-Dr. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, chaplain, United States Senate
“Important, lucid, and practical, Crucial Conversations is a
book that will make a difference in your life. Learn how to flour
ish in every difficult situation.”
-Robert E. Quinn, ME Tracy Collegiate Professor of
OBHRM, University of Michigan Business School
“I was personally and professionally inspired by this book-and
I’m not easily impressed. In the fast-paced world of IT, the success
of our systems, and our business, depends on crucial conversations
we have every day. Unfortunately, because our environment is so
technical, far too often we forget about the ‘human systems’ that
make or break us. These skills are the missing foundation piece.”
-Maureen Burke, manager of training,
Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc.
“The book is compelling. Yes, I found myself in too many of their
examples of what not to do when caught in these worst-of-all
worlds situations! GET THIS BOOK, WHIP OUT A PEN AND
GET READY TO SCRIBBLE MARGIN NOTES FURIOUSLY,
AND PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE THE INVALUABLE
TOOLS THESE AUTHORS PRESENT. I know I did-and it
helped me salvage several difficult situations and repair my
damaged self-esteem in others. I will need another copy pretty
soon. as I’m wearing out the pages in this one!”
-James Belasco. best-selling author of Flight of the Buffalo,
l!l1trl!prl!l1eur. professor. und l!xl!cutive director of the Financial
Tilllrs Knowkdgc Diuloguc
“Crucial Conversations is the most useful self-help book I have
ever read. I’m awed by how insightful, readable, well organized,
and focused it is. I keep thinking: ‘If only I had been exposed to
these dialogue skills 30 years ago … ‘”
-John Hatch, founder, FINCA International
“One of the greatest tragedies is seeing someone with incredible
talent get derailed because he or she lacks some basic skills.
Crucial Conversations addresses the number one reason execu
tives derail, and it provides extremely helpful tools to operate in
a fast-paced, results-oriented environment.”
-Karie A. Willyerd, chief talent officer, Solectron
“The book prescribes, with structure and wit, a way to improve on
the most fundamental element of organizational learning and
growth-honest, unencumbered dialogue between individuals.
There are one or two of the many leadership/management
‘thought’ books on my shelf that are frayed and dog-eared from
use. Crucial Conversations will no doubt end up in the same con
-John Gill, VP of Human Resources, Rolls Royce USA
Tools for Talking
When Stakes Are High
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny,
Ron McMillan, and AI Switzler
New York ChIcago San FrancIsco LIsbon
London Madrzd MexIco CIty MIlan New DelhI
San Juan Seoul Singapore Sydney Toronto
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Crucial Conversations : tools for talking when stakes are high / Kerry
Patterson … [et al.].
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. International communication. 2. Interpersonal relations.
Patterson, Kerry, 1946-
A Division of The McGrawHill Companies
Copyright 2002 by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted
under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be
reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or
retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
29 30 31 32 33 34 35 DOC/DOC 0 9 8 7
This book was set in R Life Roman by Patricia Caruso of McGraw-Hill Professional’s
DTP composition unit in Hightstown, N.J.
Printed and bound by R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company.
McGraw-Hill books are available at special quantity discounts to use as premiums and
sales promotions, or for use in corporate training programs. For more information,
please write to the Director of Special Sales, Professional Publishing, McGraw-Hill,
Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2298. Or contact your local bookstore.
We dedicate this book to
Louise, Celia, Bonnie, and Linda-
whose support is abundant,
whose love is nourishin
and whose patience is just shy of infinite.
And to our children
Christine, Rebecca, Taylofi Scott,
Aislinn, Carat Seth, Samue Hyrum,
Ambefi Megan, Chase, Hayley, Bryn,
Ambefi Laura, Becca, Rachael, Benjamin,
Meridith, Lindsey, Kelley, Todd
who have been a wonderful source of learning.
CH. 1: What’s a Crucial Conversation?
And Who Cares? 1
CH. 2: Mastering Crucial Conversations
The Power of Dialogue 17
CH. 3: Start with Heart
How to Stay Focused on What You Really Want 27
CH. 4: Learn to Look
How to Notice When Safety Is at Risk 45
CH. 5: Make It Safe
How to Make It Safe to Talk about Almost Anything 65
CH. 6: Master My Stories
How to Stay in Dialogue When You ‘re Angry,
Scared, or Hurt 93
CH. 7: STATE My Path
How to Speak Persuasively, Not Abrasively 119
CH. 8: Explore Others’ Paths
How to Listen When Others Blow Up or Clam Up 141
CH. 9: Move to Action
How to Turn Crucial Conversations
into Action and Results 161
CH. 10: Putting It All Together
Tools for Preparing and Learning 179
CH. 11: Yeah, But
Advice for Tough Cases 193
CH. 12: Change Your Life
How to Turn Ideas into Habits 215
This is a breakthrough book. That is exactly how I saw it when
I first read the manuscript. I so resonated with the importance,
power, and timeliness of its message that I even suggested to the
authors that they title it “Breakthrough Conversations.” But as I
read deeper, listened to the tapes, and experienced the insight
borne of years of experience with this material, I came to under
stand why it is titled Crucial Conversations.
From my own work with organizations, including families,
and from my own experience, I have come to see that there are
a few defining moments in our lives and careers that make all
the difference. Many of these defining moments come from
“crucial” or “breakthrough” conversations with important peo
ple in emotionally charged situations where the decisions made
take us down one of several roads, each of which leads to an
entirely different destination.
I can see the wisdom in the assertion of the great historian
Arnold Toynbee, who said that you can pretty well summarize all
of history-not only of society, but of institutions and of people
in four words: Nothing fails like success. In other words, when
a challenge in life is met by a response that is equal to it, you
have success. But when the challenge moves to a higher level,
the old, once successful response no longer works-it fails;
thus, nothing fails like success.
The challenge has noticeably changed for our lives, our fami
lies, and our organizations. Just as the world is changing at
frightening speed and has become increasingly and profoundly
interdependent with marvelous and dangerous technologies, so,
too, have the stresses and pressures we all experience exponen
tially increased. This charged atmosphere makes it all the more
imperative that we nourish our relationships and develop tools,
skills, and enhanced capacity to find new and better solutions to
These newer, better solutions will not represent “my way” or
“your way”-they will represent “our way.” In short, the solu
tions must be synergistic, meaning that the whole is greater than
the sum of the parts. Such synergy may manifest itself in a bet
ter decision, a better relationship, a better decision-making
process, increased commitment to implement decisions made,
or a combination of two or more of these.
What you learn is that “crucial conversations” transform peo
ple and relationships. They are anything but transacted; they
create an entirely new level of bonding. They produce what
Buddhism calls “the middle way” -not a compromise between
two opposites on a straight-line continuum, but a higher middle
way, like the apex of a triangle. Because two or more people
have created something new from genuine dialogue, bonding
takes place-just like the bonding that takes place in family or
marriage when a new child is created. When you produce some
thing with another person that is truly creative, it’s one of the
most powerful forms of bonding there is. In fact the bonding is
so strong that you simply would not be disloyal in his or her
absence, even if there were social pressure to join others in bad
The sequential development of the subject matter in this book
is brilliant. It moves you from understanding the supernal power
of dialogue, to clarifying what you really want to have happen and
focusing on what actually is happening, to creating conditions of
safety, to using self-awareness and self-knowledge. And finally, it
moves you to learning how to achieve such a level of mutual
understanding and creative synergy that people are emotionally
connected to the conclusions reached and are emotionally willing
and committed to effectively implementing them. In short, you
move from creating the right mind- and heart-set to developing
and utilizing the right skill-set.
In spite of the fact that I have spent many years writing and
teaching similar ideas, I found myself being deeply influenced,
motivated, and even inspired by this material-learning new ideas,
going deeper into old ideas, seeing new applications, and broaden
ing my understanding. I’ve also learned how these new techniques,
skills, and tools work together in enabling crucial conversations
that truly create a break with the mediocrity or mistakes of the
past. Most breakthroughs in life truly are “break-withs.”
When I first put my hands on this book, I was delighted to see
that dear friends and colleagues had drawn on their entire lives
and professional experiences to not only address a tremendously
important topic, but also to do it in a way that is so accessible, so
fun, so full of humor and illustration, so full of common sense
and practicality. They show how to effectively blend and use both
intellectual (1.0.) and emotional intelligence (E.O.) to enable
I remember one of the authors having a crucial conversation
with his professor in college. The professor felt that this student
was neither paying the price in class nor living up to his potential.
This student, my friend, listened carefully, restated the professor’s
concern, expressed appreciation for the professor’s affirmation of
his potential , and then smilingly and calmly said, “My focus is on
other priorities, and the class is just not that important to me at
this time. I hope you can understand.” The teacher was taken
aback, but then started to listen. A dialogue took place, new
understanding was achieved, and the bonding was deepened.
I know these authors to be outstanding individuals and
remarkable teachers and consultants, and have even seen them
work their magic in training seminars-but I didn’t know if they
could take this complex topic and fit it into a book. They did. I
encourage you to really dig into this material, to pause and think
deeply about each part and how the parts are sequenced. Then
apply what you’ve learned, go back to the book again, learn
some more, and apply your new learnings. Remember, to know
and not to do is really not to know.
I think you’ll discover, as have I, that crucial conversations, as
powerfully described in this book, reflect the insight of this
excerpt of Robert Frost’s beautiful and memorable poem, “The
Road Not Taken”:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; . . .
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Stephen R. Covey
We are deeply grateful to many.
First, to our colleagues at VitalSmarts, we express apprecia
tion for creativity, discipline, competence, and friendship.
Thanks to Charla Allen, James Allred, Mike Carter, Benson
Dastrup, Kevin Koger, Kevin Sheehan, Jed Thompson, Mindy
Waite, and Yan Wang.
Also we appreciate our colleagues for their indispensable help
in teaching and testing these ideas: Bemell Christensen, Larry
Myler, Bev Roesch, and Steve Willis.
And to our associate friends who have worked hard to change
lives and organizations with these concepts-and provided
invaluable feedback for refining them: Mike Allen, Karol Bailey,
Pat Banks, Mike Cook, Brint Driggs, Simon Lia, Mike Miller, Jim
Munoa, Stacy Nelson, Larry Peters, Betsy Pickren, Mike
Quinlan, Ron Ragain, James Sanwick, Kurt Southam, Neil
Staker, Joe Thigpen, and Michael Thompson.
Thanks to our agent, Michael Broussard, for getting us the
opportunity to share our message. And thanks to our editor,
Nancy Hancock, a world-class partner in producing this book
and a master of crucial conversations.
And one final, sweeping, large thanks. So many have helped
us over the years, that we add this admittedly blanket thanks to
the clients, colleagues, friends, teachers, and associates on
whose shoulders we stand.
The void created by the failure to communicate
is soon filled with poison, drive and
-c. NORTHCOTE PARKINSON
What’s a Crucial
And Who Cares?
When people first hear the term “crucial conversation,” many
conjure up images of presidents, emperors, and prime ministers
seated around a massive table while they debate the future of the
world. Although it’s true that such discussions have a wide
sweeping and lasting impact, they’re not the kind we have in
mind. The crucial conversations we’re referring to in the title of
this book are interactions that happen to everyone. They’re the
day-to-day conversations that affect your life.
Now, what makes one of your conversations crucial as opposed
to plain vanilla? First, opinions vary. For example, you’re talking
with your boss about a possible promotion. She thinks you’re
not ready; you think you are. Second, stakes are high. You’re in
a meeting with four coworkers and you’re trying to pick a new
marketing strategy. You’ve got to do something different or your
company isn’t going to hit its annual goals. Third, emotions run
strong. You’re in the middle of a casual discussion with your
spouse and he or she brings up an “ugly incident” that took place
at yesterday’s neighborhood block party. Apparently not only did
you flirt with someone at the party, but according to your spouse,
“You were practically making out.” You don’t remember flirting.
You simply remember being polite and friendly. Your spouse
walks off in a huff.
And speaking of the block party, at one point you’re making
small talk with your somewhat crotchety and always colorful
neighbor about his shrinking kidneys when he says, “Speaking of
the new fence you’re building . . . ” From that moment on you
end up in a heated debate over placing the new fence-three
inches one way or the other. Three inches ! He finishes by threat
ening you with a lawsuit, and you punctuate your points by men
tioning that he’s not completely aware of the difference between
his hind part and his elbow. Emotions run really strong.
What makes each of these conversations crucial-and not sim
ply challenging, frustrating, frightening, or annoying-is that the
results could have a huge impact on the quality of your life. In each
case, some element of your daily routine could be forever altered
for better or worse. Clearly a promotion could make a big differ
ence. Your company’s success affects you and everyone you work
with. Your relationship with your spouse influences every aspect of
your life. Even something as trivial as a debate over a property line
affects how you get along with your neighbor. If you handle even a
seemingly insignificant conversation poorly, you establish a pattern
of behavior that shows up in all of your crucial conversations.
By definition, crucial conversations are about tough issues.
Unfortunately, it’s human nature to back away from discussions
we fear will hurt us or make things worse. We’re masters at avoid
ing these tough conversations. Coworkers send email to caI.:h
other when they should walk down the hall and talk turkey. Bosses
leave voice mail in lieu of meeting with their direct reports. Family
members change the subject when an issue gets too risky. We (the
authors) have a friend who learned through a voice-mail message
that his wife was divorcing him. We use all kinds of tactics to
dodge touchy issues.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you know how to handle
(even master) crucial conversations, you can step up to and effec
tively hold tough conversations about virtually any topic.
Crucial Conversation (kroo shel kan’viir sa’shen) n
A discussion between two or more people where ( 1 ) stakes are
high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.
HOW DO WE TYPICALLY HANDLE CRUCIAL
Just because we’re in the middle of a crucial conversation (or
maybe thinking about stepping up to one) doesn’t mean that
we’re in trouble or that we won’t fare well. In truth, when we
face crucial conversations, we can do one of three things:
We can avoid them.
We can face them and handle them poorly.
We can face them and handle them well.
That seems simple enough. Walk away from crucial conversa
tions and suffer the consequences. Handle them poorly and suf
fer the consequences. Or handle them well.
“I don’t know,” you think to yourself. “Given the three choic
es, I’ll go with handling them well.”
We’re on Our Worst Behavior
But do we handle them wel l? When talking turns tough, do we
pause, takc a deep brcuth, unnl.>uncc to our innerselves, “Uh-oh,
4 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
this discussion is crucial. I’d better pay close attention” and then
trot out our best behavior? Or when we’re anticipating a poten
tially dangerous discussion, do we step up to it rather than scam
per away? Sometimes. Sometimes we boldly step up to hot topics,
monitor our behavior, and offer up our best work. We mind our
Ps and Os. Sometimes we’re just flat-out good.
And then we have the rest of our lives. These are the moments
when, for whatever reason, we either anticipate a crucial conver
sation or are in the middle of one and we’re at our absolute
worst-we yell; we withdraw; we say things we later regret. When
conversations matter the most-that is, when conversations move
from casual to crucial-we’re generally on our worst behavior.
Why is that?
We’re designed wrong. When conversations tum from routine
to crucial, we’re often in trouble. That’s because emotions don’t
exactly prepare us to converse effectively. Countless generations
of genetic shaping drive humans to handle crucial conversations
with flying fists and fleet feet, not intelligent persuasion and gen
For instance, consider a typical crucial conversation. Someone
says something you disagree with about a topic that matters a
great deal to you and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The hairs you can handle. Unfortunately, your body does more.
Two tiny organs seated neatly atop your kidneys pump adrenaline
into your bloodstream. You don’t choose to do this. Your adrenal
glands do it, and then you have to live with it.
And that’s not all. Your brain then diverts blood from activi
ties it deems nonessential to high-priority tasks such as hitting
and running. Unfortunately, as the large muscles of the arms
and legs get more blood, the higher-level reasoning sections of
your brain get less. As a result, you end up facing challenging
conversations with the same equipment available to a rhesus
WHAT’S A CRUCIAL CONVERSATION? 5
We’re under pressure. Let’s add another factor. Crucial con
versations are frequently spontaneous. More often than not, they
come out of nowhere. And since you’re caught by surprise,
you’re forced to conduct an extraordinarily complex human
interaction in real time-no books, no coaches, and certainly no
short breaks while a team of therapists runs to your aid and
pumps you full of nifty ideas.
What do you have to work with? The issue at hand, the other
person, and a brain that’s preparing to fight or take flight. It’s lit
tle wonder that we often say and do things that make perfect sense
in the moment, but later on seem, well, stupid.
“What was I thinking?” you wonder.
The truth is, you were real-time multitasking with a brain that
was working another job. You’re lucky you didn’t suffer a stroke.
We’re stumped. Now let’s throw in one more complication.
You don’t know where to start. You’re making this up as you go
along because you haven’t often seen real-life models of effec
tive communication skills . Let’s say that you actually planned
for a tough conversation-maybe you’ve even mentally
rehearsed. You feel prepared, and you’re as cool as a cucumber.
Will you succeed? Not necessarily. You can still screw up,
because practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes
This means that first you have to know what to practice.
Sometimes you don’t. After all, you may have never actually seen
how a certain problem is best handled. You may have seen what
not to do-as modeled by a host of friends, colleagues, and, yes,
even your parents. In fact, you may have sworn time and again
not to act the same way.
Left with no healthy models, you’re now more or less
stumped. So what do you do? You do what most people do. You
wing it. You piece together the words, create a certain mood, and
otherwise make up what you think will work-all the while
6 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
multiprocessing with a half-starved brain. It’s little wonder that
when it matters the most, we’re often at our worst behavior.
We act in self-defeating ways. In our doped-up, dumbed-down
state, the strategies we choose for dealing with our crucial con
versations are perfectly designed to keep us from what we actu
ally want. We’re our own worst enemies-and we don’t even
realize it. Here’s how this works.
Let’s say that your significant other has been paying less and
less attention to you. You realize he or she has a busy job, but
you still would like more time together. You drop a few hints
about the issue, but your loved one doesn’t handle it well. You
decide not to put on added pressure, so you clam up. Of course,
since you’re not all that happy with the arrangement, your dis
pleasure now comes out through an occasional sarcastic remark.
“Another late night, huh? Do you really need all of the
money in the world?”
Unfortunately (and here’s where the problem becomes self
defeating) , the more you snip and snap, the less your loved one
wants to be around you. So your significant other spends even
less time with you, you become even more upset, and the spi
ral continues. Your behavior is now actually creating the very
thing you didn’t want in the first place. You’re caught in an
unhealthy, self-defeating loop.
Or consider what’s happening with your roommate Terry
who wears your and your other two roommates’ clothes (without
asking)-and he’s proud of it. In fact, one day while walking out
the door, he glibly announced that he was wearing something
from each of your closets. You could see Taylor’s pants, Scott’s
shirt, and, yes, even Chris’s new matching shoes-and-socks
ensemble. What of yours could he possibly be wearing? Eww!
Your response, quite naturally, has been to bad-mouth Terry
behind his back. That is until one day when he overheard you
WHATS A CRUCIAL CONVERSATION? 7
belittling him to a friend, and you’re now so embarrassed that you
avoid being around him. Now when you’re out of the apartment,
he wears your clothes, eats your food, and uses your computer
out of spite.
Let’s try another example. You share a cubicle with a four-star
slob and you’re a bit of a neat freak. In Odd Couple parlance,
you’re Felix and he’s Oscar. Your coworker has left you notes
written in grease pencil on your file cabinet, in catsup on the back
of a french-fry bag, and in permanent marker on your desk blot
ter. You, in contrast, leave him typed Post-it notes. Typed.
At first you sort of tolerated each other. Then you began to get
on each other’s nerves. You started nagging him about cleaning
up. He started nagging you about your nagging. Now you’re
beginning to react to each other. Every time you nag, he becomes
upset, and, well, let’s say that he doesn’t exactly clean up. Every
time he calls you an “anal-retentive nanny,” you vow not to give
in to his vile and filthy ways.
What has come from all this bickering? Now you’re neater
than ever, and your cubicle partner’s half of the work area is
about to be condemned by the health department. You’re caught
in a self-defeating loop. The more the two of you push each
other, the more you create the very behaviors you both despise.
Some Common Crucial Conversations
In each of these examples of unhealthy self-perpetuation, the
stakes were moderate to high, opinions varied, and emotions ran
strong. Actually, to be honest, in a couple of the examples the
stakes were fairly low at first, but with time and growing emo
tions, the relationship eventually turned sour and quality of life
suffered-making the risks high.
These examples, of course, are merely the tip of an enormous
and ugly iceberg of problems stemming from crucial conversations
8 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
that either have been avoided or have gone wrong. Other topics
that could easily lead to disaster include
Ending a relationship
Talking to a coworker who behaves offensively or makes sugges
Asking a friend to repay a loan
Giving the boss feedback about her behavior
Approaching a boss who is breaking his own safety or quality
Critiquing a colleague’s work
Asking a roommate to move out
Resolving custody or visitation issues with an ex-spouse
Dealing with a rebellious teen
Talking to a team member who isn’t keeping commitments
Discussing problems with sexual intimacy
Confronting a loved one about a substance abuse problem
Talking to a colleague who is hoarding infonnation or resources
Giving an unfavorable performance review
Asking in-laws to quit interfering
Talking to a coworker about a personal hygiene problem
OUR AUDACIOUS CLAIM
Let’s say that either you avoid tough issues or when you do bring
them up, you’re on your worst behavior. What’s the big deal?
How high are the stakes anyway? Do the consequences of a
fouled-up conversation extend beyond the conversation itself?
Should you worry?
WHAT’S A CRUCIAL CONVERSATION? 9
Actually, the effects of conversations gone bad can be both
devastating and far reaching. Our research has shown that strong
relationships, careers, organizations, and communities all draw
from the same source of power-the ability to talk openly about
high-stakes, emotional, controversial topics.
So here’s the audacious claim. Master your crucial conversa
tions and you’ll kick-start your career, strengthen your relation
ships, and improve your health. As you and others master high
stakes discussions, you’ll also vitalize your organization and your
Kick-Start Your Career
Could the ability to master crucial conversations help your career?
Absolutely. Twenty-five years of research with twenty thousand
people and hundreds of organizations has taught us that individu
als who are the most influential-who can get things done, and at
the same time build on relationships-are those who master their
For instance, high performers know how to stand up to the
boss without committing career suicide. We’ve all seen people
hurt their careers over tough issues. You may have done it your
self. Fed up with a lengthy and unhealthy pattern of behavior, you
finally speak out-but a bit too abruptly. Oops. Or maybe an
issue becomes so hot that as your peers twitch and fidget them
selves into a quivering mass of potential stroke victims, you
decide to say something. It’s not a pretty discussion-but some
body has to have the guts to keep the boss from doing something
As it turns out, you don’t have to choose between being hon
est and being effective. You don’t have to choose between candor
and your career. People who routinely hold crucial conversations
and hold them well are able to express controversial and even
1 0 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
risky opinions in a way that gets heard. Their bosses, peers, and
direct reports listen without becoming defensive or angry.
What about your career? Are there crucial conversations that
you’re not holding or not holding well? Is this undermining your
influence? And more importantly, would your career take a step
forward if you could improve how you’re dealing with these
Improve Your Organization
Okay, so individual careers may sink or swim based on crucial
conversations, but how about organizations? Surely a soft-and
gushy factor such as how you talk to one another doesn’t have an
impact on the not so soft-and-gushy bottom line.
For twenty-five years we (the authors) explored this very issue.
We (and hundreds of others) searched for keys to organizational
success. Most of us studying the elusive topic figured that some
thing as large as a company’s overall success would depend on
something as large as a company’s strategy, structure, or systems.
After all, organizations that maintain best-in-class productivity
rely on elegant performance-management systems. Widespread
productivity couldn’t result from anything less, could it? We
weren’t alone in our thinking. Every organization that attempted
to bring about improvements-at least the companies we had
heard of-began by revamping their performance-management
Then we actually studied those who had invested heavily in
spiffy new performance-management systems. It turns out that
we were dead wrong. Changing structures and systems alone did
little to improve performance. For example, one study of five
hundred stunningly productive organizations revealed that peak
performance had absolutely nothing to do with forms, pro
cedures, and policies that drive performance management. In
WHAT’S A CRUCIAL CONVERSATION? 1 1
fact, half of the highflyers had almost no formal performance
What’s behind their success? It all comes down to how people
handle crucial conversations. Within high-performing com
panies, when employees fail to deliver on their promises, col
leagues willingly and effectively step in to discuss the problem.
In the worst companies, poor performers are first ignored and
then transferred. In good companies, bosses eventually deal with
problems. In the best companies, everyone holds everyone else
accountable-regardless of level or position. The path to high
productivity passes not through a static system, but through
face-to-face conversations at all levels.
Solve pressing problems. The best companies in almost any
critical area are the ones that have developed the skills for deal
ing effectively with conversations that relate to that specific
topic. For example:
Safety. When someone violates a procedure or otherwise acts
in an unsafe way, the first person to see the problem, regard
less of his or her position, steps up and holds a crucial con
Productivity. If an employee underperforms, fails to live up to
a promise, doesn’t carry his or her fair sha
Assignment 5: Learning Journal (8%)
Learning Journal Instructions
It is now time to prepare your last assignment, a Learning Journal, that will make connections between the concepts you are studying and your possible future business career.
Answer the questions to each Journal Entry 1-4 as seen below. Compile your responses in one Word file. Each journal entry should be at least 400, and no more than 500, words. The title page must include your name, ID, course name, assignment name/number
5 – Learning Journal)and university name. The report should use Calibri (body) font size 12 and be double-lined spacing. If you use references, create them on a separate page and cite the sources in APA format. When you have completed the questions in all four of the required entries, you will submit the file to your Open Learning Faculty Member.
You will also need to create a short video in which you summarize your responses to the questions in the four Journal Entries in this assignment. Your video should be at least 3 minutes, but no more than 4 minutes, long. You can submit your video as a separate component to Assignment 5 using the Kaltura Video upload system described below. Be sure to check that your video file is properly uploaded.
Please DO NOT attach videos directly in the assignment submission point. Use the Embed Kaltura Media button in the text editor as shown here:
Kaltura Video Upload Instructions
Instructions for creating a video:
A. Make a video recording on your smartphone, tablet or PC, laptop or Mac using either a built-in camera, webcam or a separate one and save the video file so you can easily locate it later.
B. If you use a smartphone, then send the video file from your smartphone to your personal or TRU email address so you can retrieve it on your computer or laptop or tablet.
C. Open the file in your email and then save the video file to your desktop, laptop, or whatever device you use to do your course work.
D. Upload the video file so it is added to your Assignment submission using the
Kaltura video upload instructionsas seen above.
Your completed journal and video will be marked out of a total of 50 marks, allocated as follows:
Completion of all four journal entries (5 marks)
Application and explanation of concepts from the course reading (15 marks)
Use of additional resources: interviews, online research, etc. (15 marks)
Quality and completeness of video (10 marks)
Grammar and style of journal entries (5 marks)
Journal Entry Instructions
Entry 1: Career Paths
Complete after doing the reading and activities for Unit 1.
One of the challenges of choosing a career in business is that there are so many different career paths that you can take. So, its important to choose a path that will hold your interest now and well into the future. To choose wisely, start by understanding your talents and interests. Do you enjoy working with numbers? Maybe a career in accounting, finance, or economics is right for you. Do you enjoy helping others achieve their career goals? That might lead you to choose a career in Human Resources. Or maybe, you have had part-time work experience in a sales or customer service position. If you enjoyed that work, perhaps its the start of a career in marketing.
To prepare this journal entry, complete at least two of the following three activities:
1. Understanding your personality style can be a good start to understanding your strengths and weaknesses. That in turn, can help you focus on your best business career choices. Learn more about your personality style by completing an online personality styles assessment. There are several free sites that you can choose from; a good one is
Answer the questions as honestly as possible. Read about the strengths and challenges of your personality style and record both in your journal. What will you do to maximize the strengths of your style and minimize its weaknesses?
2. If you are leaning in a specific business career direction, interview a friend or family member who is already in that career. Be sure to respect your interview subjects time by making an appointment for a half hour discussion over the phone; you can also do your interview using Skype, WhatsApp, or Zoom. Prepare a list of questions in advance of your interview. For example, you might ask what your subjects typical day looks like. Or you could ask what they see as their greatest challenge in their current position, or their advice for students who are interested in beginning a career in their field. Ask no more than 10 questions. Write down your subjects answers and record them in your journal.
3. Do some online research about career opportunities in the field you are interested in. Google the name of the business specialty you are considering, and add the phrase career paths to your search. Check at least three sources and record what you learned in your journal.
Entry 2: Entrepreneurship
Complete after doing the reading and activities for Unit 2.
At some point in our lives, many of us have aspirations to own our own business. Has the idea of becoming an entrepreneur ever appealed to you? If you could start your own business, what would it look like? Choose one of the following activities as the focus for your second journal entry.
1. Interview a successful entrepreneur in your community. Try to find one whose business is in a market segment that interests you. Remember to make an appointment for your interview, and prepare no more than 10 questions in advance. Summarize what you learned during your interview in your journal.
2. Research business opportunities in a field you are interested in. Who are the successful companies? Are there any under-served market niches that might become opportunities? What are the barriers for companies who want to enter this market segment? Record your research findings in your journal.
3. Watch the video on Gift n Gab Trading Post, an Indigenous entrepreneurial business and answer the following questions:
c. If you were a marketing consultant to Gift n Gab, what would you recommend to increase the number of travelers stopping at the Trading Post?
c. What additional products and/or services could the Trading Post owners add to increase their revenue and profit?
Entry 3: The Four Management Roles
Complete after doing the reading and activities for Unit 3.
Once you start along your chosen business career track, you may have the opportunity to move from a task-oriented to a management role. This could happen sooner than you think! In Unit 1, you learned about the different business career tracks, and in Journal Entry 1 you began the process of discovering which career track is the best fit for you. Now, in Unit 3, you have learned about the Four Functions of Management (Planning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling), and you are ready to explore how those functions might play out in the business career track that interests you. Reflect on the connection between Units 1 and 3 and answer the following questions in your journal.
1. How might a manager in your career track (accounting, finance, human resources, marketing, etc.) practice each of the four functions? Be as specific as possible. Apply what you have already learned from your work experience, and from the interviews you may have recorded in Journal Entries 1 and 2.
2. Do some online reading in a credible business publicationpreferably one with a Canadian focus. Examples include, the business pages of the
Toronto Globe and Mail, and the
Financial Post. Find an article that addresses how practicing any one of the four management functions helped a business leader make an important decision in his or her company. Summarize what you learned from the article and record your summary, along with a web link to the article, in your journal.
Entry 4: Final Reflections and Path Forward
Complete after doing the reading and activities for Units 4 and 5.
Congratulations! You have now completed all of the units in the course, and you are ready to reflect on what you have learned and map out the next steps in your future business career. Reflect on your experience throughout the course and record the following in your journal.
1. What are some situations in which the career track you are considering would interact with one or more of the other business functions? For example, if you are considering a career path in marketing, how might the responsibilities of a marketing professional integrate and interrelate with those of professionals in Human Resources or Accounting?
2. What do you consider to be the biggest challenge that a manager might face in trying to practice the four management functions (Planning, Organizing, Leading, Controlling)?
3. What are the five things that you will do in the next six months to show progress in your own business career?
After completing this entry, be sure to review your entries for grammar and style before submitting the document to your Open Learning Faculty Member.
Create a short video in which you summarize your responses to the questions in the four Journal Entries in this assignment. Your video should be at least 3 minutes, but no more than 4 minutes, long.