Strained relationships are a normal, natural occurrence in today’s tension-filled workplace. An effective way to keep the underlying issues from driving people apart is to sponsor clarification forums on a regular basis.
A clarification forum is a structured process where those Doers within your sphere of influence demonstrate their support for conflict resolution and joint problem solving. A great deal can be accomplished in a short time frame by following this suggested format:
Phase 1 – Climate Setting: The facilitator declares that the intention of this forum is to surface conflicts and to share negative feelings so that issues can be fully explored and eventually resolved.
Phase 2 – Information Collecting: Participants form sub-groups to list those variances, deviations from expectations and blockages that are creating friction and/or frustration.
Phase 3 – Information Sharing: The facilitator recites the list from each sub-group. A spokesperson may be assigned to help clarify or categorize the sub-group statements.
Phase 4 – Priority Setting: The facilitator rank orders those items that need further exploration. Sub-groups come back to the next forum with suggestions for future action.
Phase 5 – Action Planning: The facilitator makes a list of what action has been agreed upon including timetables, positional responsibility and resource allocations.
Phase 6 – Follow-up: The facilitator meets with each sub-group spokesperson to develop an action plan based upon the commitments made in Phase 5. The results are reported in Phase 7.
Phase 7 – Progress Review: Participants reconvene regularly to report progress, settle disputes, develop plans and share emerging issues.
Positive outcomes include more open communications, disclosure of interpersonal conflicts, improved working relationships and a renewed spirit of commitment to performance and productivity.
Note: Tensions left unattended will result in inappropriate behaviors.