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Here are a few examples of intervention techniques used to resolve conflict:

Observation: Two members are locked in an argument about op­posing views and neither seems very willing to give ground.

Intervention: The facilitator needs to take the focus off the two members and redirect the discussion back to the rest of the team. Once again the flip chart is an excellent tool for doing this. The facilitator first takes control of the meeting by saying something like, "OK, we have two good ideas to get us started. I will write them here on the flip chart. Now, does anyone have any other ideas that we can add to this list?"

Observation: A member makes some kind of negative remark about another member and it is obvious that it hurt. (The remark could have been at the team meeting or apart from the team meeting)

Intervention: If members are allowed to make negative personal remarks, it will destroy the atmosphere and trust that is essential for the team to successfully work together. This kind of behavior must be confronted immediately when it happens. The facilitator needs to do a time out and remind the person (and the team) of what they agreed to in their team agreement about treating each other with respect. If there is no team agreement, then the facilitator needs to negotiate an agree­ment about this issue at this time. This kind of behavior can have seri­ous consequences to the unity of the team and under no circumstances can it be ignored. Negative personal remarks will have a long-term effect on the team if not adequately resolved.

To gain consensus: After a team has carefully discussed various op­tions and is nearing a consensus, the facilitator can help by facilitating the consensus process. This will require first asking, "Before we go fur­ther in making our decision, does anyone have any other ideas you would like to add to our list of possibilities?"

When you are certain all the ideas have surfaced and been discussed, it is time to begin the process of arriving at a consensus. A consensus is a decision that everyone can live with and support. The facilitator will first get an idea of how many in the group support a particular decision by asking, "Could we say that (a particular option) is the direction we will take that everyone can support?"

If there are members who still have reservations about the decision, the facilitator should reopen the issue. He or she can ask for any new facts by saying, "The majority seem to agree on (a particular option) but I still hear some concerns. What is it we need to discuss to address your concerns?" This is not a time to rehash the same arguments, but to look for a way to find common ground that everyone can agree to.

Spend time in openly discussing the facts and opinions. If a member still is having a difficult time agreeing with the team, the facilitator should ask the person to join the consensus. He or she can ask, "[Name], I know that you feel strongly that we should do this a different way and we have listened to your reasons. The team seems to be in consensus to go in a different direction, and we would like you to be part of the consensus. Can you live with the group's consensus?" Most team members will agree to go with the team's judgment if asked. If for some reason a per­son still insists on being the lone holdout, then consensus will be impos­sible and the team needs to go with the majority's decision.

To guide the problem-solving process: Most decision-making teams should be making decisions using a logical problem-solving meth­odology. This means that they should be working together to (A) de­fine and understand the problem, (B) determine the causes, (C) deter­mine a solution and implement the action plan, or (D) evaluate the results. Confusion will set in when team members do not all operate out of the same part of the problem-solving process at the same time. They must move together through the process one step at a time. The facilitator should be familiar with the process and intervene and help redirect the team when it gets ahead of itself.

To Be Continued


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