In a session I facilitated recently, we found ourselves laughing a lot and having fun. The jovial mood was in sharp contrast to our previous session when emotions were raw. This team had a lot of conflict and we used the first session to share the many issues that were undermining their ability to work together.
It’s been my experience that the path to a flourishing culture starts with addressing the negativity first. This work is best done when:
(1) It is facilitated by an external consultant who is on everyone’s side;
(2) There are strong ground rules, which create a safe space for people to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings; and
(3) There is an organizational leader who understands this is important work and who owns the role he/she plays when there are problems between management and staff.
When working towards better relationships, there will be missteps and perhaps even setbacks. Nevertheless, the ease with which these people laughed was a good sign. It is this consultant’s belief that people want to get along and this team has taken the important first steps to make that happen.