By Kelly Graves | Submitted On October 20, 2005
Are you worried that the upcoming staff outing is going to be an all-out disaster? Maybe instead of horseshoes or badminton at your next picnic, you should think about activities for conflict resolution skills!
Conflict among staff and team members are typically symptomatic of misperceptions and disintegrated communication – in other words, your employees are probably acting a lot like this:
- Defensive or hypersensitive
- Fearful of reprisals and putdowns even if encouraged to speak
- Unwilling to see the “other side’s” point of view
Planning Activities for Conflict Resolution Skills…
If you’re planning a group meeting in the near future, this can be a good time to incorporate fun activities for conflict resolution skills. What should your planned goals be in planning activities for conflict resolution skills?
- Enabling everyone in your company to actually recognize and reframe their misperceptions – to understand how words were meant to be understood versus how they were interpreted.
- Giving your team a sense of “air time” through activities for conflict resolution skills so team members can identify their place in the group and the situation at hand.
- Give your staff a chance to see and experience another side to the great people they work with on a daily basis.
- Activities specifically designed for your staff and their unique challenges so that the lessons learned will be maintained long after the event is over and you receive a good return on your investment.
If conflicts run deep, it’s often advisable to bring in an objective professional to choreograph activities for conflict resolution. Your planned activities may stem from your best intentions, but if they are not designed and monitored carefully by a specialist, the process can blow up and potentially become worse than it was at the start.
Following is an example of of some fun and informative activities and programs we have had success with. This example will give you an idea of how to approach conflict resolution within your organization.
Participants are given an understanding of the experiential program and how it can benefit them as well as their team, department and /or organization. Additional topics focus on personal safety, importance of support, how to enter the learning zone, and other key points that invite participation.
In a structured one on one format participants meet and converse with many different colleagues. Each conversation and the subsequent progression (4-5 different topics) are specifically designed to get the group more connected and comfortable with each other and help anchor points made in the previous context phase.
Shape It Up:
While seated and blindfolded the team must discover the answer to an equation that involves colored plastic shapes. This event requires clear and descriptive communication, open and non-biased listening, and consensus.
As work projects and demands continue to rise to a shrinking time line and budget, moods and effectiveness may deteriorate. This simulation catches the team assuming too much and supporting too little until one brave member begins to share his/her knowledge (thus reducing stress and effort) with the team.
At the conclusion of each simulation, the team is given an opportunity to assess their performance. Discussions involve the poignant insights they have gained or been introduced to and how these relate to their developmental leadership stage, career and/or office environment etc.
Small group discussions regarding stages of leadership development and where they perceive themselves to be (i.e., novice, moderately competent, proficient). Or they can discuss one area in their realm where they’ve had a great breakthrough and one area that needs attention/support etc.
The groups will be brought together for the last time of the day/evening. This is a final opportunity for the entire group to share, cross learn and connect about key insights and critical points (i.e., leadership, communication, teaming, and shared successes) that were experienced during the program. Variation for constricted time lines: A representative from each team shares a highlight and insight about the teams experiences with the other groups.
This outline is an approximation only. The value of these activities comes not from the events so much as from the insight and dialogue the events inspire. Therefore, if learning from a particular event and subsequent debrief is going exceptionally well, we suggest you deviate from the aforementioned outline in order to solidify and deepen the learning potential. This will tend to promote further dialogue related to this subject at a further time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Graves is the founder and CEO of Internal Solutions Consulting. ISC specializes in organizational conflict resolution. With over 85 years of combined experience in organizational conflict resolution, Internal Solutions is able the quickly address conflicts within an organization to facilitate a more successful, productive and profitable communication environment.
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