In both business and life in general, there are a variety of frustrating challenges that never seem to improve and continue to cause stress and hold up progress.
One particularly common challenge is defensive posturing, blame cultures and “Us Vs Them” mentalities.
“He’s getting ready for battle in there!” the receptionist said.
I walked into the meeting room and, sure enough, there he was. He’d arrived early to a meeting that wasn’t his, let himself in, had taken over the projector and already had a spreadsheet list up on the screen.
I didn’t look at the screen but I could guess what it was; a spreadsheet full of reasons why the delays in the work delivery were other people’s fault.
I introduced myself to the group of eight attendees from three different companies and, once everyone had their drinks and were settled, I started the session.
We had started 10 minutes late as the bickering had already begun – sometimes it’s good to let the energy rise a little.
I could see them worriedly eyeballing the spreadsheet displayed over my shoulder, reading the list of complaints and accusations.
I started: “I’ve been brought in as an objective facilitator to serve you and make sure you get the best, most productive solution for your time.
“I’ve considered the nature and scope of your challenge and designed a workshop process that will deliver what you need.
“I’ll just talk through the agenda quickly and we can get started…..
“Eh, now where’s the laptop connector?….oh, sorry do you mind if I just grab that to talk through our agenda….” ?
We had a productive, full-day workshop where the attendees objectively analysed the issue they were all facing together. They came up with agreed reasons and causes and developed an action plan together to get the work back on track.
The spreadsheet never made an appearance again.
Even when some people are only there to bicker, fight their corner, be defensive and generally aren’t thinking in a productive and constructive way, a skilled facilitator will ensure a well-designed, practical, productive session that benefits ALL and won’t allow derailing.
Yes, facilitation costs money. Not as much as wasting time and salaries on several of the “other” types of sessions.
Does the above sound familiar? How many meetings have you endured in the past where the argument simply goes back and forth and then people leave, without any real resolution?
Written by Chris Cortopassi of Short Steps