As Doers are drawn together in the workplace, their beliefs, values, and practices are bound to create differing options and attitudes. Keeping silent about these differences as though they do not exist—adding them to the list of unresolved issues—erects artificial barriers, stifles fruitful dialogue, and drives well intentioned people apart.
The longer the list, the more tense and anxious people will become. An effective way to get these unmentionable topics on the table is to gather the team on a regular basis to resolve those issues on the list.
Begin by asking each participant to anonymously write down on 3 x 5 index cards those issues he or she would like to see resolved. Compile a master list and then have each person rank the issues in the order they are ready and willing to discuss.
Next, work through the prioritized list together one item at a time. Schedule the first session for about ninety minutes in order to give the participants ample time to practice and come away with satisfaction of knowing how the process works.
The heaviest, more serious issues top the list. Heaviest meaning an issue so sensitive that no one has dared mention it for fear of what might happen. Such unresolved issues have been on the list so long that they take on additional weight.
It is best to start at the bottom of the list with the least sensitive issues and save the heavier issues for later. This process often exposes those in opposition to the possibility that they may not “know the truth” and that they may not be able to discover it without help from their peers.
As prospective doers work their way through the unresolved issues list, they learn how to express their concerns without prejudice or judgment, how to ask difficult questions, and how to bring up the issues that are keeping them apart.
When a festering issue is liable to pit one person against another, consider using a neutral facilitator who has no personal interest in the outcome.