Crafting conversation to create high performance: A Masterclass

Course Overview:

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 organisation, 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 principles of expectancy theory are considered when 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 of conversations and how actively managing expectations can create high performance;
  • Recognise a range of conversational forms and how they may be applied to create change or influence others;
  • Be able to use a range of conversational forms to plan and implement high performance.


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. It will also consider how this learning can be used in conjunction with the principles of expectancy theory 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.



UNSW Canberra


What you will receive: 

Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea and a certificate of attendance

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


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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.


About the Presenters:

Professor Deborah Blackman will be facilitating this course.  Additional presenters may include Professor Michael O'Donnell, Dr Fiona Buck and Dr Samantha Johnson.


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:

Dr Samantha Johnson

Samantha Johnson is a lecturer in public sector leadership and a member of the Public Service Research Group at UNSW, Canberra. She researches public sector capability development in management and leadership and public sector performance. The common theme of her work is building capability and performance in the public sector for today and for tomorrow’s public service. Research projects have included a project in middle management experiences in management and leadership capability development and managerial capability in the Royal Australian Navy. For more information please see: