Professional Facilitators Save Time and Money


Organizations invest a lot of time and money when they get away from the office for a day or two to focus on long term planning or other crucial needs.  You want to make sure this event is successful and a neutral facilitator will do that.  Many factors are involved in a successful facilitation.  This article will help managers and purchasing agents think through these factors and their needs when searching for a professional facilitator for a retreat, team meeting or group conflict.

How can a neutral facilitator help your organization?

Organizations use facilitators for team building, board meetings, group conflict and strategic planning meetings.  This is a sample of the types of engagements that Alternative Resolutions has assisted with.  A neutral professional facilitator can help an organization make sure they get the most out of the planned event.

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Team Conflict & Mediation: Bring in an Outsider

My last few posts have centered around team conflict in the workplace, and leadership strategies for managing and guiding team conflict towards the most desirable outcomes. However, sometimes the best exercise of leadership is to recognize when you are too embroiled in the conflict to get your team to the other side.

Sometimes a third party is needed to move your team beyond an impasse.

Sometimes a third party is needed to move your team beyond an impasse.

You might be slightly removed from your team’s politics and disputes by hierarchical authority, but as a leader who works with them on a regular basis and has vested interests in the outcomes of their work you can’t always avoid becoming embroiled in the complexities of thorny disputes. A two-party conflict can be complicated enough; managing a multi-party conflict can be overwhelming, and especially when as a team member you may need to be part of the resolution. At this point it is frequently more effective to bring in a third party neutral to design and facilitate a mediation that can address all the necessary aspects of the conflict. Read on to get a sense of how a mediator can systematically and effectively approach multi-party conflicts, helping you and your team(s) move beyond your impasse. [Read more…]

Group Work: Who’s in and who’s out?

I page through the business section of the New York Times on a regular basis, and I very often find material there that is relevant to mediation and facilitation. Nearly every business requires collaborating in groups, and as Phil Gilbert, general manager of IBM Design, recently pointed out in his New York Times piece[1] this can be a major strength, contributing enormously to brewing up new possibilities. But only if the group work is done well, in a way that allows everyone’s ideas to work their way into the conversation. What does this entail?

“[G]etting the best work out of a team isn’t about silencing the loudest person. It’s about getting everyone involved to explore every angle, bring all ideas to the surface and collaborate on a path forward.”[2] There is an important insight here: bringing all those ideas to the surface doesn’t just mean there are things you shouldn’t do because they silence people. Pulling everybody’s perspective into view is an active process. It takes strategy and intention. It’s something you have to plan to do before you can reap the benefits of getting together a team to problem solve or innovate.

Facilitation is all about intentionally cultivating rewarding synergies. Facilitators and mediators make the art of these processes their life’s work; it’s our modus operandi, our “M.O.” – and perhaps with some added urgency, because we know group work that silences participants can do more than inhibit innovation. It can also cause conflict. Below are some insights and strategies from facilitation that augment Gilbert’s exploration of inclusive group work. [Read more…]

Nonviolent Communication: a Model, a Strategy, a Lifestyle

In a number of past posts and newsletters I’ve referred to “nonviolent communication” as an important and effective strategy for dealing with difficult conflict scenarios, or for working towards conflict transformation. Much more than just an abstract notion, nonviolent communication is a core concept couched in a strong theoretical base. Not only is it a powerful tool in mediation or formal conflict resolution, it is a holistic process and a lens through which an individual can come to see all relations and communication. At its most potent level, nonviolent communication can ultimately embody a spiritual or worldview. I wanted to take a post to focus on this extraordinary technique, and perhaps make it more accessible for readers in their daily lives.

What is Nonviolent Communication?

What is widely recognized today as the core theory of nonviolent communication (NVC) was spearheaded by the psychologist and PhD. Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s.  With questions about communication and violence originating from childhood run-ins with anti-Semitism and violent race relations in Detroit, Rosenberg began to develop his model during his activities in the civil rights movement. He sought to better understand how entrenched patterns of communication kept humans from expressing their needs to one another without violent escalation, and how he and others could develop the ability to surpass those patterns.

The idea of NVC is founded on some basic assumptions about human beings and their mutual interactions. [Read more…]

Don’t Use the Suggestion Box: New Ideas Deserve Dialogue

The Sunday New York Times Business section has two fabulous columns that I read religiously because  they are replete with wisdom that is relevant to the conflict management world.  One is Corner Office by Adam Bryant which is an interview with business leaders about leadership.  It contains early career lessons about management and tips for rising managers and leaders.  The Workologist by Rob Walker contains workplace conundrums posted by readers and thoughtfully answered by Mr. Walker.

In last Sunday’s Workologist, “Face the Fussbudgets” a consultant posed a concern about financial pettiness at the workplace and sought recommendations about creating a mind shift in the CEO and CFO to look at the impacts of fiscal cautions on productivity and morale.  The Workologist gave some good recommendations about having perspective and respect for different functions in an organization.  But what is the best way to raise the flag of concern to upper management?

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