Cionea, I. A., Kavya, P., & Wyant, M. H. (2020). Dialogue Orientations in Workplace Meetings. Management Communication Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318920970542
Background & Theory:
Past studies have elucidated that identifying interaction processes within meetings helps to predict effectiveness and productivity. This study analyzes workplace meetings through a dialogical framework, focusing on which dialogue orientations may predict meeting satisfaction.
Research was conducted by Ioana C. Cionea et al. to answer the following questions:
- Which dialogue orientations predict employee satisfaction with the meeting process and meeting outcomes?
- How does meeting type affect the dialogue orientations that employees use?
- How does an employee’s supervisory role impact which dialogue orientations they use?
263 participants located in the United States were recruited to take part in this study. The sample held a wide variety of jobs, all worked at least 40 hours per week, and attended meetings regularly in their workplace. All participants were asked to fill out a survey that measured meeting type, dialogue orientations, and meeting satisfaction.
For meeting type, participants were given a list of meeting types, were asked to think about a meeting they had recently at work, and chose which type of meeting most closely resembled what they participated in at work. For dialogue orientations, participants filled out a Likert-type scale indicating their agreement with statements related to their dialogue orientation. Meeting satisfaction was measured with two variables: satisfaction with the process of the meeting and the outcome of the meeting. As with measuring dialogue orientations, participants were asked to elicit their agreement to statements related to meeting satisfaction on a Likert-type scale.
- Persuasive dialogue orientation: Utilized with a goal of persuading someone to change their position with hopes to reach a stable agreement
- Negotiation dialogue orientation: Utilized with a goal to maximize personal benefits and reach settlement
- Eristic dialogue orientation: Utilized with a goal to reach an accommodation between two parties in conflict in order to help them move past the issue even if only temporarily
- Inquiry dialogue orientation: Utilized with a goal to resolve a problem for good through accumulating factual evidence
- Deliberation dialogue orientation: Utilized to work through a problem by focusing on course of action
- Information seeking dialogue: Utilized with a goal sharing information with others
- Feed-forward or information sharing meeting: Focused on sharing information about specific issues
- Decision-making and problem-solving meetings: Focused on resolving difficulties and participating in decision-making
- Innovation meetings: Focused on brainstorming new ideas with the group
- Training and skill development meetings: Focused on fostering organizational culture through teambuilding and relationship strengthening activities
- Feedback meetings: Focused on making space for employees to react to organizational changes or occurrences
- Combination meetings: A mixture of the five meetings listed above
The results indicated that negotiation dialogue orientation, information giving dialogue orientation, and inquiry dialogue orientation all significantly positively predicted employee satisfaction with the meeting process. The use of the negotiation dialogue orientation and information giving dialogue orientation also positively predicted satisfaction with the meeting outcome. Contrarily, use of the eristic dialogue orientation negatively predicted satisfaction with the meeting process and outcome.
It was additionally discovered that meeting type can significantly affect which dialogue orientations employees use. For example, the persuasive dialogue orientation, negotiation dialogue orientation, and eristic dialogue orientation were highly utilized withing decision making and problem-solving meetings but not as much in feed-forward meetings. Both the persuasive dialogue orientation and the eristic dialogue orientation were also more likely used in innovation meetings over feed-forward meetings.
The study also focused on the impact of supervisory role on dialogue orientation and found that all dialogue orientations (except for the eristic dialogue orientation) were utilized more by those in supervisory positions than those without supervisory roles.
What We Can Learn:
Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insight:
- Paying attention to dialogue orientation can make a difference in improving meeting satisfaction. For example, giving employees the chance to negotiate in meetings involving decision-making may make them more satisfied with the meeting in its entirety.
For Consultants: In advising organizations on how to improve overall job satisfaction, a first step may be to look at how satisfied employees are with their meetings. Allowing employees to be more hands-on in meetings through the negotiation and persuasive dialogue orientations may help increase meeting satisfaction.
For Everyone: Changing up the way work meetings are held in ways that allow employees to be more involved in important issues may be helpful in improving satisfaction.