How to Have Crucial Conversations Toward Team Success

45 min



Competencies: Communication, Conflict Management, Operations & Collaboration

Learning Objectives

  1. Leverage their knowledge, skills, strengths, and diversity, and those of their teammates to develop innovative and inclusive approaches to design/project challenges.
  2. Deploy effective communication strategies to manage collaboration and conflict within your team.
  3. Observe and assess behaviors that contribute to team challenges, successes, and failures.
  4. Devise a plan that manages team dynamics toward completing the work.

Instructor Preparation

  1. Note that this activity can be delivered in four different ways:
    1. You can use the video lecturettes to do the activity in your classroom.
    2. You may set the activity as a homework assignment.
    3. You can request an ETD facilitator to facilitate this activity.
    4. You can request to be trained by ETD to deliver the workshop using the facilitator guide and slide deck that the ETD facilitators developed and use.
  2. If choosing in class option with video support, review the Crucial Conversations facilitation video and timing instructions for the class session.
  3. Review the worksheet for the session “Crucial Conversations Outline.”
  4. Assign students into teams.
  5. Use the rubric to evaluate students’ work.

Outline & Timing

Option 1 (in class – video supported facilitation)

Step 1: Introduce the purpose of the day’s activity (1 min)

Points to make:

  • Today we will talk about how to have respectful conversations with others.
  • We will use a format for a conversation that is based on years of research and practice.
  • Addressing non-productive conflict in your team will likely lead to better project outcomes and better team dynamics.

Step 2: Show the video “Crucial Conversations” and follow the prompts to stop and start the video during the class.

Step 3: Encourage your students to plan and have the crucial conversations that they need to have with their teammates or other people in their lives (roommates, significant others, parents, advisor, etc)

Option 2 (homework)

  1. This homework assignment should be completed with your team so that you can pause the video and have group discussions as prompted.
  2. Students will turn in a plan for a crucial conversation that they need to have. This conversation does not have to be with one of your teammates.
  3. You may wish to spend some class time discussing the topic after the students have submitted their work.

Option 3 (ETD facilitator)

  1. The Effective Team Dynamics Initiative has facilitators who are trained to deliver this content. The facilitation can be in-person or online. Request a facilitator.

Option 4 (training to be a facilitator)

  1. The Effective Team Dynamics Initiative provides training for those wishing to become a facilitator of this content. We have developed a facilitator guide and slide-deck that is used in the training. Training can be in-person or online. Request facilitator training.

Activity Appearance

  • This is not part of the Senior Design Curriculum Set and is intended to be part of fourth-year level classes or classes that have semester-long (or multi-semester) projects.