Crafting conversation to create high performance: A Masterclass

Course Group: 
Public Sector Management

It is widely accepted that to achieve organisational high performance, individuals must be performing at their best. A major contributor to individual performance is the presence of regular and effective performance conversations. Such conversations should enable individuals to understand their purpose within the organization, giving both goal and role clarity. This will necessitate managers clearly articulating their expectations of their team members.

This two day masterclass is designed for those who undertake performance conversations as a core component of their roles. We will consider alternative forms of conversation and discuss why recognising and utilising different conversational forms helps to create new patterns of behaviour and performance outcomes. The core concept of expectancy theory will then be applied using these conversational forms, giving participants the opportunity to develop ideas for future approaches to managing expectations.

At the end of the masterclass, participants will:

  • Have insight into the impact conversations and actively managing expectations have in creating high performance;
  • Recognise a range of conversational forms and how they may be applied;
  • Develop insights into how different elements of expectancy theory can be used frame individual expectations;
  • Be able to use a range of conversational forms to managing expectations in the future.

Masterclass format

This experiential masterclass will give participants an opportunity, in a safe space, to consider different types of conversations, learn about expectancy theory, gain some key lessons and undertake practical techniques designed to make “changing the conversation” a reality. 

Drawing on recent research and practical knowledge, this interactive masterclass will consider how diverse conversational forms create different outcomes. This learning will then be applied to expectancy theory demonstrating how it has the potential to affect individual behaviour, thereby creating different outcomes. Presenters will work with participants to consider how these lessons can be applied in their own organisations and managerial practice.

Who Should attend

Masterclass Outline

Presenter Information

Dates and Registration


Who Should Attend

This masterclass is designed for middle managers and senior executives who are responsible for developing capability and supporting high performance through their teams.


Masterclass Outline


9:00 am to 9.30 am




9:30 am to 10:00 am

Introductions & Program Overview: Deborah Blackman



10:00 am to 10.30 am


High performance characteristics and why they matter

Fiona Buick



10.30 am to 11.15 am


Change as a network of conversations

Deborah Blackman


11.15 am to 11.30 am


11.30 am – 12.45 pm

Refreshment break



Different forms of conversation

Deborah Blackman


12:45 pm to 1:30 pm




1:30 pm to 2:30 pm


What is expectancy theory

Michael O’Donnell


2:30 pm to 2:40 pm


2:40 pm to 3:45 pm

Refreshment break



Integrating expectancy elements into managing expectations

Deborah Blackman, Michael O'Donnell and Fiona Buick


3:45 pm to 4:30 pm

Recap of day and planning for Day   2



4:30 pm








9:30 am to 9:45 am

Introduction to Day 2



9:45 am to 11.00 am


Applying forms of conversation to managing expectations practice: 1

Deborah Blackman, Michael O’Donnell and Fiona Buick


11.00 am to 11.15 am


11.15 am – 12.15 pm

Refreshment break



Applying forms of conversation to managing expectations practice: 1

Deborah Blackman, Michael O’Donnell and Fiona Buick


12:15 pm to 1:00 pm


Lessons learnt and the way forward



1:00 pm 

Lunch and close









Dates & Registration

Duration: 3-4 October 2017

Delivery Mode:  face to face

This masterclass is being designed and delivered through the Public Service Research Group 

Location:  Navy Room, Adams Auditorium, UNSW Canberra

What you will receive:  Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon Tea


Presenter Information 


Professor Deborah Blackman

Deborah Blackman is a Professor in Public Sector Management Strategy and Deputy Director of the Public Service Research Group at UNSW, Canberra. She researches knowledge transfer in a range of applied, real world contexts. The common theme of her work is creating new organisational conversations in order to improve organisational effectiveness. Research projects have included leading a joint collaborative project with the Australian Public Service Commission which is working on Strengthening the Performance Management Framework; the role of social capital in long-term disaster recovery funded by the Toyota foundation, and an ARC grant considering Whole of Government from which she developed a new diagnostic model to support effective joined-up working. She has written extensively on performance management with articles in Review of Public Personnel Administration, Australian Journal of Public Administration and Journal of Organizational Change Management. For more information please see;

Dr Fiona Buick

Fiona Buick is a Lecturer in Public Sector Management and a member of the Public Service Research Group at UNSW, Canberra. Her research focuses on how human resource management can enable group and organizational effectiveness in the public sector. Research projects have explored the impact of organisational culture on joined-up working; how performance management can enable high performance; the factors that enable middle management capacity; and the factors that impede and enable structural change in the public sector. She has published articles on performance management in Review of Public Personnel Administration, the Australian Journal of Public Administration and the Journal of Organizational Change Management. She has also co-authored numerous practitioner reports and publications on performance management. For more information, please see

Professor Michael O’Donnell

Michael O’Donnell is Professor of Human Resource Management at the University of New South Wales, Canberra. Michael has published widely on HR policies and practices in the Australian Public Service. Michael's research interests include human resource practices and employment relations in the public sector, executive remuneration in the private sector and international employment relations. Michael has acted as a chief investigator on large ARC funded projects exploring management strategy and employment relations in the Australian and United Kingdom public sectors and executive remuneration and corporate governance in Australian listed companies. Michael has published widely in management and employment relations journals including the Journal of Management Studies, the International Journal of Human Resource Management and the Journal of Industrial Relations. For more information please see:


Please note that a discounted rate may be available in special circumstances.  Please contact PSRG at for further information.


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