Seven conversations for resilient groups

Are you working in a group that tends to blow up or clam up when challenged by important issues?

If so, nurture your group’s resilience by holding any or all of the following conversations. Each conversation helps the group clarify intentions and create group norms, while deepening trust and respect— the foundation for stronger relationships and better results. 

  1. Clarify purpose: What is our objective for working together?  What is our mutual purpose?  What do each of us really care about? Why is that important to us? What do we believe our mutual benefit could be?
  2. Explore roles and responsibilities: Why are each of us a member of the group?  What experience and expertise do each of us bring to this work?  How are our roles similar?  Where might our roles be different? What are our unique responsibilities? If we notice overlap of responsibilities, are they useful or problematic?
  3. Share group expectations: These are often referred to as ground rules, group norms, protocols, and operating principles.  Have we elicited and defined these for our group?  Are they just words on a list in a binder somewhere or do we guide our behaviors by them?  How do we hold ourselves accountable to them?
  4. Speak respectfully: Is how we are speaking to each other (our word choice, tone, and body language) building respect, or is it diminishing it? What kind of language feels respectful or disrespectful to group members? Does language related to our task need to be clarified?  Do our individual groups use unique language to talk about the same thing?  Can we agree on shared language in service of effective communication?
  5. Uncover values that drive behaviors: What personal values inform how we work together? What are our organization’s values? Is there meaningful overlap between our personal values and the organization’s values? Or, is there a gap that we need to understand? How can our common values drive behaviors that lead to results?
  6. Internal Interactions: How are we organized to get the work done?  How often do we meet?  How are agendas set?  How do we communicate with each other?  How does information flow?
  7. External Connections: Who or what outside of our groups needs to inform our work?  Who or what outside group needs to be informed by our work?  What are our expectations regarding confidentiality?

(Adapted from Seven Conversations article by Greg Abell, Sounds Options Group)

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