“If you don’t talk it out, you will act it out”.
Voicing a contrary opinion or giving feedback can be difficult, but in order for Jade Software to adapt and improve, it was absolutely necessary the company’s employees felt empowered to do so. And by enabling their people with skills to speak up, leaders at Jade believed their employees would also create better team dynamics, improve communication across the business, and increase their self-awareness on how they show up on a daily basis.
“We had begun a reset from a cultural perspective around what our organizational values were – what behaviors we were expecting and how we were designing our way of working,” said Kate Selway, Director of People & Capability at Jade. “How do we want our people to interact? What does that kind of behavior look like?”
“Some of our teams hadn’t been exposed to the skills needed to engage in dialogue, or people just didn’t have the experience or confidence to have the conversations that needed to take place.”
Selway had seen success with Crucial Conversations® for Mastering Dialogue at a previous organization and believed it would work to improve relationships at Jade as well. Her team started at the top by having the company’s executive team take the course first. Upon completion of the course, the response was unanimous.
“After everyone had been through the training, it was obvious it was something we wanted to commit to and bring in internally,” Selway said. “I remember the conversation, it was literally, ‘Do we even need to talk about this?’ Like, of course this is something that we need to bring into the organization.”
Jade opted to have a few team members trained in Crucial Conversations who then delivered the course to colleagues. By supporting trainers within the organization, the course could be adapted on the fly to current issues individuals and teams were facing and could speak directly to the company’s culture.
“It’s something that we really own internally,” Selway commented. “I think there’s a huge benefit in that, not just from a cost perspective, but from our own people talking about the skills and really championing the course.”
“If you came in and talked to some of our people, they wouldn’t think that Crucial Conversations is an external offering. They would believe that it’s kind of a Jade-specific offering. When it feels like Jade owns it and it’s ours, it has naturally just become part of who we are.”
Being an international company, Jade runs the Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue course not only at headquarters in New Zealand but also to teams in Australia and the United Kingdom. Selway observed that no matter how many times the course is offered, it fills to capacity every time.
But Jade personnel aren’t just sleepwalking through the course, they’re seeing application in their day-to-day lives.
“I hear people talking about the skills all the time,” Selway said. “So I’ll often be chatting to someone and they’ll talk about something that’s happened and they’ll catch themselves and go, ‘But the story I’m telling myself about that is…and these are the facts that I actually have.’ I see people getting out the Crucial Conversation Planner, and they’re often asking for that to plan out the conversation they want to have. So that tells me that the skills are in use.”
Word has spread regarding the power of the Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue skills outside of the organization and aided in recruiting as well.
“I’ve had new starters join, and when I catch up with them and ask what brought them to Jade, often it’s ‘Well, I’ve heard about all the internal training you offer and it sounds amazing.’ So, the fact that people are talking about it outside of work tells me it’s having an impact. We’re certainly not marketing it externally—our people are.”
And while the culture at Jade is changing for the better, company employees are taking the skills they’ve learned on the job and improving their personal lives, too.
“We talk about the fact that it’s not just Jade that benefits from this,” Selway said. “It’s our people and their personal lives as well. And I think that’s the part that gives me a lot of energy from delivering this training. One employee recently said to me, ‘I wish this was taught in school.’ These are fundamental life skills.”