Many times we hear from groups, “we’re stuck,” or “we can’t get anything accomplished,” or “we argue and blame each other or each side.”
If any of those sound like your group or your labor-management committee, there are some things a group can work on to help identify the problem and the underlying cause and create a more stable environment for the group’s endeavors.
The first suggestion is for the group to consider doing a group or committee assessment. This can help to identify problems or causes as to why the group is not getting along or can’t accomplish anything. There’s no point in trying to correct a problem until learning what the problem or cause actually is. The assessment can also give groups a starting point in rebuilding their relationship and work. It probably would be best to get help from an outsider because of the possibility of trust issues and assessment results will be better if people feel comfortable providing honest responses. Of course it will depend on the questions in the assessment to find out what’s going on so it would be a good idea for the group to talk to individuals conducting the assessment and learn more about what items will be covered in the assessment. Once the assessment has been completed and results are known, the group can start to work on some of the areas that need to be strengthened but also focus on the areas where the group is effective because it can boost confidence as the group works on the weak areas.
The next suggestion, and this is after an assessment, is for the group to concentrate on creating a more stable environment that will better allow the group to work together and look at issues they will face. A group or committee may have completed some of these items but it might be time to review them. There may be some confusion from group members about these, there could be new group members or overall changes are needed for the group’s purpose. These items include ground rules that provide behaviors the group expects of itself and from individuals within the group structure, a mission statement that tells what the group is about, expectations of what the group can do and what it cannot do, and goals the group wants to accomplish based on its mission and the expectations. All of these may help to reconcile the group or committee or break down the differences in a constructive way so the group can come together.
Working through both of these suggestions in a slow and deliberate process will help a group or committee overcome their difficulties. It also would be good for a group to have a facilitator that can provide specific tools and techniques that works along with the process and also help the group create the environment more conducive to completing tasks. It’s not always easy for a group to work on overcoming internal issues and that extra support a facilitator provides can help the group from struggling or overcoming obstacles so they can get back on track faster. In addition, facilitation can teach those techniques to the group so they can use them in the future.
Lastly, before a group works on stabilizing its environment, it may be a really good idea to get some help in the form of training. Groups should not be shy about asking for training assistance. While a lot of people think team training or learning to work together is a waste of time, working in a group process isn’t always as easy as people think. Training can actually provide more efficiency in the long run because it can provide some tools and guidance plus build camaraderie that can eliminate “us vs them” and also make it easier to resolve issues or work on projects. Problem solving skills can be enhanced. Communication both within the group and outside the group can be improved. New ways of doing things can be approached and better accepted as people learn about each other and hear different perspectives. Meeting skills, too, can be addressed to help make meetings more efficient and productive. Even for groups who may have already been through training or have worked together for some time, a refresher is always good especially as new leadership or new members become part of the group. With any luck, a group may be able to find both a “trainer and facilitator in one!”