Shared Value Results in Shared Wins
For many people, reaching a resolution in conflict means that the other party in the conflict surrenders what they want. For these people, resolution equals winning.
We at I & I Resolutions believe the best way to reach true resolutions is to look past the winning and losing dichotomy. True resolutions have shared value for the parties involved.
For example, an employer and an employee may both care for and strive for a company’s vision to come to fruition; however, they may have different approaches to reaching that goal. Employees may want their employer to extend hiring or double the training budget to secure more resources to get the job done. And the employees may have a good business case for making these moves. Perhaps they have been working with limited resources, and they’re becoming tired and demoralized.
However, from the employer perspective, revenue hasn’t been reaching goals, and labor costs are stretched to the limit.
Both sides are in conflict on how to reach the company’s vision, but the employee and employer solutions to the conflict are not compatible. If both sides focus more on winning rather than on their shared value of wanting to achieve success for the company, they may reach an untenable solution, and conflict will resurface or continue.
In this case, there could be a resolution that falls outside of those proposed by these two opposing parties. Possible resolutions that focus on shared value could be adjusting the timelines for goals to accommodate the current financial situation, or the parties could search for no-or-low cost training opportunities and focus on cross training within the organization. In the end, there’s no shared winning without shared value.
Thank you for reading our message on the importance of shared values. I & I Resolutions can help your company reach effective resolutions, communicate more effectively, and become more productive. Connect with us today to discuss how we can assist you and your group.
Facts, information, and perspectives. They are key to reaching solutions for workplace impasses.
Often the best solutions for disagreements are not about choosing one viewpoint over another or a simple redistribution of existing workplace resources. No, the best solutions are the ones that have yet to be discovered. They derive from creating a new, innovative viewpoint. However, reaching that goal cannot happen without understanding all the facts, information, and differing viewpoints that underscore the workplace impasse.
In negotiations, asking open-ended questions is a valuable tool for gaining the needed understanding for creating a new, workable way forward from impasse. Open-ended questions are those that require a person to provide more than yes or no responses. These questions encourage responses that bring more valuable intel to bargaining conversations and help us reach long-term solutions.
Closed-end questions, on the other hand, can be answered with yes or no. They can hamper the flexibility in conversations by pressuring participants to answer in a particular way.
Here are some examples of closed-end questions. Avoid asking questions like:
“You don’t really think that’s the best approach to take, do you?”
“Don’t you think that’s unreasonable?”
“Do you like working here?”
“Are you even listening?”
“Do you really think that’s going to work?”
And here are some understanding-generating, open-ended questions:
“Why do you support this approach?”
“What are your goals for this negotiation?”
“How would you describe the events/circumstances that have led to this impasse?
“What are the some of the benefits/consequences you see with this approach?”
“How do you see us measuring the effectiveness of taking this step?”
As you can see, the closed-ended questions constrict responses, and some of them create the kind of adversarial environment that shuts down innovative, creative solutions.
On the other hand, the open-ended questions promote understanding between parties. The questions are framed around the standard journalistic questions of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. To reach solutions, we must know the other person’s perspective and why that perspective holds importance for them. This creates the basis of understanding each other and discovering long-term solutions to workplace impasses.
We appreciate you taking the time to learn more about how the questions you ask can lead to innovative solutions. I & I Resolutions strives to help groups resolve their issues, communicate more effectively, and become more productive. Connect with us today to discuss how we can assist you and your group.
Imagine you are in a meeting and you are constantly yawning, fidgeting, and changing your position. While you may not be saying anything, your behavior may be communicating to the meeting presenter and others in attendance that you are bored and anxious to leave. You may have stayed up the night before working tirelessly on a project with a fast-approaching deadline. However, the meeting participants don’t know that. All they see is your apparent lack of engagement communicated through your nonverbal behavior.
Communications researcher Albert Mehrabian has suggested that 55 percent of communication is nonverbal. That means your facial expressions and body language can mean as much, if not more, than the words you choose. Because so many people are unaware that their nonverbal cues may be sending unintended signals, it’s important, especially in the professional setting, to be mindful of body language. Self-awareness of your non-verbal cues could lead to better communication outcomes and prevent misunderstandings.
Here are a few tips to help enhance nonverbal communication.
1. Establish eye contact. This indicates that you are present and ready to communicate.
2. Smile. Languages vary from country to country, but smiles are universal. By simply smiling, you’ll send out nonverbal signals that you’re approachable and open to a two-way dialogue.
3. Consider the tone of your voice. Technically, this one is verbal, but it’s also nonverbal in that it’s not about what you say but how you say it. The way that you speak can convey everything from respect to boredom. So think of how others may perceive your tone when speaking.
4. Sit up straight. Posture conveys messages more than you may have thought. Something as simple as sitting up straight conveys the message that you are paying attention.
5. Practice makes perfect. Look at yourself in the mirror while practicing a presentation to pick up on nonverbal cues that may be conveying that you’re nervous or disinterested and train yourself to use cues that show you are prepared and confident to communicate.
We appreciate you taking the time to learn more about nonverbal communication. I & I Resolutions strives to groups resolve their issues, communicate more effectively, and become more productive. Connect with us today to discuss how we can assist you and your group.
Here are are with the final part of our series on actions to take in closing and after your meetings.
and a vital part as well.
#7 - Thank Everyone for Their Participation and Contribution - In our careers we have collectively bargained awards systems whereby employees receive money or other compensation to appreciate the work they do. These are important, yet sometimes, they overshadow how powerful a simple thank you or good job can be. Whether your meeting is one-hour, one-day, or several days, when it’s over, thank everyone.
People give time and effort from their busy schedule to participate in these meetings. Showing our appreciation makes them feel good about that participation, and also makes them more likely to give same time and effort for future meetings
When reviewing these steps for closing the meeting and follow-up, it can be summed up this way, all of these steps are based on communication. As we have repeatedly said, having a communication plan emphasizes its importance. Communication skills are perishable if not used, so for each meeting, learn them, practice them and use them.
Until next time I & I Resolutions remains committed to helping groups resolve their issues, communicate more effectively and become more productive. Connect with us to day and let's discuss how we can assist you and your group.
Welcome back to the Bargaining Table of Thomas and Andy. As per our last segment, 7 Important actions to take in closing and after your meetings....we know what we did and what needs to be done. And to help with that, we need minutes of the meeting.
If you have a recorder for meetings (and you should) the minutes of that meeting must be sent to all participants. Before the meeting ends, and if you have time, review and approve minutes focusing on important ideas/concerns, decisions made, action items to be taken. Cautionary note, you don’t need to capture EVERYTHING being said. Just what’s important.
If you don’t have time, then send minutes to participants within 24 after the meeting with a specific date/time for them to review comment and/or approve. Now while meeting minutes do not need to include everything that has been said, it does need to include (at least) the following:
# 6 - Evaluating the Meeting - Even in the most effective meetings, things don’t always go smoothly. In our experience we have found it valuable to take the time, maybe 15-20 minutes before a meeting ends, to evaluate how the meeting went.
Just think of what you learn by asking each participant the following
1) what worked for them; and
2) how could we improve the meeting.
We have heard participants say for example, “good decision-making process", "used our time well", "not enough participation", and/or "we need larger room” ...and many others.
These evaluations are valuable because they provide insight as to what happened. It tells you how people felt about the meeting both “good” and “bad.” It also gives you a road map for future meetings by building on what went well and what we need to do to make it better.
So glad you've come this far with us in our series! Next time we'll finish it off with our final, but vital tip.
We'll see you back here next week where we'll be discussing how to make yourself and others feel really good about the meeting!
We welcome your comments and you can leave your thoughts right here, down below! We promise to read each one and reply. If you'd rather have a private conversation, just click here to connect with us and take advantage of our complimentary consult services.
Continuing on our list of 7 actions to take in closing and after your meetings....
In our previous segment we discussed the importance of reviewing those decisions you made along with action items that need to be take. Before determining who is doing what it’s important that everyone agrees with and understands what needs to be done (action items). Once that is determined, it’s time to assign these tasks.
# 3 - Assigning Tasks - And here the key word is specificity. First, determine who is going to perform the task. Also, if there is more than one person again determine who they are and what their responsibilities are. For those who are not “in the room” yet may be crucial completing the task, contact those people and discuss with them 1) the task and 2) their responsibility.
Second, what is the due date for the action item and when will it be reported? Again, have a specific date/time. Avoid the word soon or within a reasonable amount of time. Our experience has shown us that soon has different meanings for different people.
# 4 - Holding Each Other Accountable for Action Items - If you are like us, we sometimes we need a gentle and sometimes more than gentle push to remind us about completing action items. Meeting leaders should check with those working on action items to see what is happening. This can be done by E-mail, or phone call or brief meeting.
We would also argue that if you are responsible for the task, you should brief either the team leader(s) or participants regarding your progress. Also, as stuff happens at work, that “stuff” may cause to fall behind in completing the task. By letting people know your progress (or lack of) you can work together to figure out what to do.
By checking in, we are you are sending a message this item is important and that we are expected to complete the task. By just letting it go until the next meeting sends the opposite message.
One final point about accountability. Every task/action item should have a “lead” person. This individual would be responsible reminding everyone of the action item, what their work is and doing follow-up to ensure task is completed.
Next time we speak, we will provide some tips on when and how to distribute minutes and evaluating how the meeting went.
Do you have questions or a need to have us be more specific about our recommendations? Please follow this link to connect with us anytime. We are here to help you develop the outcome you are striving for.
Here’s a quick scenario. You attend a meeting. Seems pretty productive. Meeting ends. You are back at work and you are not sure about meeting outcome. What are we supposed to do, who is going to do it? When is it supposed to be done? You might even call another attendee to find out. If they don’t know either, are you surprised?
While it may be easy to think that once the meeting ends, you are done, chances are there is more to do. If the meeting has been managed effectively, participants should leave the meeting with follow-up work to be done.
Lesson learned. Never assume what was discussed at the meeting will be remembered or that action will be taken.
So, closing the meeting and what happens after is just as critical as to what occurs during the meeting. To ensure you don’t live through the above scenario, we will over the next few weeks, offer 7 important actions to take in closing and after your meetings.
In this segment we’ll stress just two of them:
#1 - Ending the meeting on time....Sounds simple, yet we have all been to meetings that have run past “closing time”. Remember, people’s time is important. Don’t waste it. If the expectation is meeting is to end at 4, end at 4. Going past that time and its more likely participants focus is on “when is this going to end.”
#2 - Reviewing decision/actions, including next steps ...Each meeting must include a recap of what has been done and what needs to be done. Have you made decisions? If so, what are those decisions? Have they been captured correctly? Does everyone understand the decision? These decisions more often than not will impact your organization. Ensuring everyone agrees with, understand and supports all decisions are VITAL especially if you need to implement them.
Do the same with action items/next steps. What are the action items? Have they been captured? Does everyone understand them? Important point here is NEVER assume anything. Take the time to review/discuss what has been done and what needs to be done.
In our next Segment, we will talk about how to assign tasks and then hold each other responsible for those tasks.
In our next post we'll move to our next two tips in the Importance of Communication. Stay with us....and if you need our assistance in the meantime, please connect with us right away. Follow this link to take advantage of our discount price for first time Clients. We look forward to assisting you.
When we last spoke, we told you about facilitating with a group that had not met since May 2018. When we met with the group, we opened the meeting by 1) introduced ourselves, including expectations, 2) reinforced ground rules; 3) clarified roles and 4) reviewed the agenda. Again getting “buy-in” to move forward requires communication so all of us are singing off the same page to continue.
So, now it’s time to run the meeting. In looking at our facilitator role, our #1 function is to manage their discussion. All of our actions should be focused on the group’s ability to have productive discussions (again communication) that lead to effective decisions.
Working with groups are difficult but if we practice effective facilitative behaviors, we can assist the group to reach their objectives in this meeting. First, keep them focused on their agenda items. It’s important for them to adhere to their agenda unless the group specifically agrees to change it. Again, that is done by communicating with each other and getting agreement from everyone before changing it.
Also remember since agendas have several items, the group needs to discuss one item at a time. Sounds simple but ask yourself this. How many of you have been in meetings where different issues are being discussed at the same time? Follow-up question, how effective was that? One issue at a time.
Focusing and refocusing on the issue ensures everyone understands what is being discussed. We need to listen actively, ask questions, check for understanding, summarize, rephrase, encourage participation so the full scope of the issue and interests are being discussed. We also need to check with the group as to WHAT they need to do regarding the issue. What’s the decision they need to make, how are they going to make it? Quick note. In our next blog we will talk about closing the meeting and next steps and getting agreement on action items, responsibilities. So, stay tuned.
The process of discussing, asking questions, participation, summarizing, rephrasing, actively listening, determining what to do, in other words, communication must occur for each issue being discussed if you want to have an effective meeting.
In that vein, I think we can agree that all meetings are time limited which means agenda items are time limited. So, if we accept that the group is responsible for content, as facilitators, our focus is on process which often includes being a timekeeper. Communicating to them about time we see as a two-step process. First, make them aware of time. Second, ask them how they want to proceed. Maybe they want to set aside the issue and come back to it later. Or they may want to continue discussing and set a new time limit. What’s important is that we continue to communicate effectively so they can make the best decisions.
Finally, our experience has shown whenever you have a group of people with diverse interests, there is a real good chance that conflict is going to arise. We have always believed there are no “easy” issues with some being more difficult than others. Regardless chances of disagreement/conflict arising is a pretty safe bet. And let’s be honest, most of us do not like conflict and try to avoid it. Here, that may not be the best option.
So, what to do. #1, address the conflict immediately. It’s going to impact the discussion and it needs to be dealt with. Second, find out what the conflict is, and this is CRUCIAL, focus on the issue, not the individuals. What’s being said, not who is saying it. Pinpoint the areas they disagree on and why there is disagreement. Once you determine the what and why they disagree, only then can you get to problem-solving.
Communication, communication, communication. We all need to communicate our issues and concerns and just as important, communicate we have listened to and understand others’ concerns. Practice and use these skills and your chances increase the group members have buy-in to the resolution and commit to that decision.
The next time you are at a meeting, when it’s over ask yourself if this happened;
1) everyone listened actively by conveying they understood the issues and everyone’s concerns;
2) were you and others able to communicate your thoughts, ideas, concerns to others:
3) was there a good summary of the issues being discussed;
4) were the right questions being asked;
5) did anyone rephrase things that were said to ensure understanding and
6) were conflicts/disputes addressed and dealt with.
And with these questions we again emphasize the importance of communication, its perishability if not used and having good communication skills. And these skills must be learned, practiced and used.
Until next time I & I Resolutions remain committed to helping groups resolve their issues, communicate more effectively and become more productive. Connect with us today
The Importance of Communication –Part IV
Next week we are facilitating a meeting with a group that has not met since May 2018. Prior to that last session the group had been meeting almost on a monthly basis for the previous several years. So, as in the previous blog in putting together this meeting, decisions were made who would participate, an agenda was developed, previous ground rules were reinforced and logistics on how to conduct the meeting were determined. And, of course, all of this was communicated to the participants.
And as we work with that group, we understand the importance how to run that meeting to meet their objectives. In moving from preparation of a meeting to actually running the meeting, we will continue to need effective communication skills. For that we break down “running the meeting” into two steps a) opening the meeting and b) running the meeting. For this blog, our focus will be on opening the meeting. Now this should be simple yet many a meeting can go off track because we don’t take the time to properly start/open the meeting.
We both have been in meetings where whoever is “in charge” says let’s begin and starts talking immediately about the issues. We say stop. Because there are some important questions that have not been answered, Is everyone else ready to begin? What exactly are we doing? How will we get there?
Opening a meeting also requires preparation and communication because to move forward requires “buy-in” from the group. So, whether you are the group’s facilitator or chairperson (co-chairs) there are some basic tenets to getting a meeting started.
First, have everyone introduce themselves. Sounds simple, but don’t assume everyone knows each other. Especially if the meeting involves others from different parts of your organization. Also, in our meeting next week, there are four new participants from the May 2018 meeting.
In our experience we use introductions to ask these questions like,
1) tell us your name;
2) what you do;
and 3) what your expectations for the meeting
Let’s focus on #3. Why is that question important? The best way we can answer that is while I know why I am in this meeting do I really know why you are there? Don’t guess and don’t assume; let them tell you. Even if their response is “I don’t know” or I am here to find out, at least now the group knows that.
Now, you may ask doesn’t this take time and we may be on a strict time constraint. Short answer is yes. Also, you may have a lot of people in the room (which in itself may be a problem) therefore, getting expectations may not always be realistic. However, should you do this, remember this one rule, these expectations are not up for debate. Your only objective here is to listen and learn what others expect.
Once introductions are done it’s a good idea to reinforce and/or establish roles and responsibilities. Is there a group leader(s) who will lead the discussion, does the group have a facilitator and recorder, who is the group’s timekeeper ensuring you have enough time to discuss the issues? These are critical roles to any group’s success. Everyone needs to understand and be on board with who is doing what. The same applies to reviewing/reinforcing behaviors (ground rules) for the meeting.
So, we have introduced each other, established roles and reinforced our ground rules. Now, and maybe most critical we need to review the agenda.
Most meetings occur at least several days and/or weeks after the agenda has been prepared and sent to the group. Workplace issues can and do change during that time and these changes could impact your meeting. There can also be new issues that arise after the agenda has been prepared that could also impact your meeting.
Connect with us today. Follow this link to take advantage of our discount price for first time Clients. We look forward to assisting you.By taking the time to review the agenda we can make everyone aware of these issues and allow the group together to amend the agenda to reflect these changes. Remember the Agenda is like GPS in that while it guides you, we still do the driving. And haven’t we all because of unforeseen circumstance needed to change directions to get where we want to go.
And once again even with the “simple” task of opening/starting a meeting, we can see the importance of effective communication in helping us meet our objectives.
So, until next time I & I Resolutions remain committed to helping groups resolve their issues and become more productive.
We’d like to hear from you. Are you finding it difficult to navigate through your meetings?
Does communication seem to be a challenge?
Why not take advantage of our First Time Complimentary Consultation Service? We are standing by to get your questions answered!
The Importance of Communication - Part III
We hope everyone has been having a wonderful New Year thus far.
In the last several blogs, we have emphasized the importance of communication as it relates to the work environment and that good communication is about muscle memory, preparation and practice. So, let’s put that to use.
Recently, we did a workshop at Federal Dispute Resolution Conference called “OMG, Not Another Meeting”. Haven’t we all had that reaction when we are told we are going to meet. Regardless of reason for meeting (task force, problem solving, information) too many times we think this will be a waste of time. It’s fair to say that most of us hate meetings, yet we are a meeting society. So, assuming we are not going to eliminate meetings, then our focus should be on making them productive and that does require us to prepare and communicate.
Both of Thomas and I have attended hundreds of meetings, and we have facilitated hundreds more. The most successful are those where the parties have prepared (agenda, ground rules) and communicated the purpose of the meeting.
Let’s think about preparation. First, if you determine you need a meeting, what is its purpose? More important, have you communicated that purpose and gotten buy-in from those who are attending (stakeholders). If you have not, good luck with having a successful meeting. You will need it. Now, as to stakeholders. These are individuals who are affected by the meeting’s outcome and they need to participate. It is good practice to keep meeting numbers small, however, always ensure those affected by the meeting’s purpose or their representatives attend.
Your meeting has a purpose, you know who is attending. Now it’s time to do the actual planning. This includes date, time & location of meeting, logistics, room-setup, equipment needed. All of these are important and should be taken care of before you decide to meet.
Maybe the most important element in planning is developing the agenda. We view an agenda as a game plan that will both provide a structure for your meeting but also be flexible enough to make changes if needed. Now, before we talk about specific items that go into the agenda, remember the following: 1) develop the agenda with participant input and/or participant buy-in and 2) create the agenda early to ensure such buy-in and 3) everyone has the agenda ahead of meeting.
So, what goes into an agenda? Well, first, always define the meeting’s objective/outcome. In other words, what do you want to do at this meeting? Next, have specific topics/items and If you have more than one item (and most do) then prioritize. One point as to number of topics: please be realistic. Even if you have a 2-day meeting, having over 50 agenda topics could be described as an ineffective meeting. We speak from experience.
Also, for each topic, do the following:
1) Allow enough time for discussion and/or any action taken;
2) indicate what action is needed for each topic. This could be sharing information, making a decision, assigning the item to individual(s) for a later report out
and 3) identify who is responsible for leading the discussion for each item. This again, only reinforces the importance of communication before your meeting begins.
Having an agenda is like GPS. Helps you get there but you have to do the driving. Is it important to a productive meeting? Of that, there is no doubt. Yet, there is another component also important to achieving effective meetings. Remember the previous two blogs where I talked about how before each baseball game, and each team plays 162, umpires and managers get together to discuss the ground rules. I mean, why do they do that, they know the rules and it takes time. Think of it this way, everyone understands them and the behavior or players in the game are within those rules.
Same principle for meetings. Too often, the difference between productive or non-productive meetings can be determined by our behavior. Having behavioral ground rules, accepted by the participants, increases the chances of a successful meeting. While there is no “one size fits all” regarding ground rules, we have found these to be very effective.
Keep in mind that when putting together a meeting, you can use some or all of these ground rules or you may have others. What’s important; establish ground rules and before each meeting review them for understanding and commitment.
So, until next time, we at I & I Resolutions remain committed to helping groups resolve their issues and become more productive through effective communication, including meetings.
We specialize is helping organizations determine their own unique requirements and challenges in the area of communication. Connect with us today. Follow this link to take advantage of our discount price for first time Clients. We look forward to assisting you.
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