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How to Plan an Employee-Conflict Meeting for a Large Group

When you need to manage a group conflict at work, you can toss everyone into a room and wing it, or you can put some thought into planning a meeting. The more upfront planning you do, the better your odds are for a fruitful outcome, so set yourself up for success. Prior to the meeting, do the following:

  • Create a goal statement: Start with a broad idea of what you’d like to tackle, and then get specific before you communicate the goal of the meeting to the attendees. How you state the goal makes a difference in the attendees’ attitude and expectations.

  • Set an agenda: As people move from large group work to small group work and back again, they can always look to the agenda to know where they are in the process. The best work is often done when time is limited, so keep the meeting moving forward as much as possible.

  • Engineer ground rules: Suggest ground rules that help accomplish the meeting goal, and then give the group the opportunity to create a set of guidelines (or add to an existing set) that everyone can agree to work with. Use them to keep the group on task and to lessen your need to intervene as the meeting progresses.

  • Gather needed equipment and materials: Identify and collect data, exhibits, maps, charts, reports, and so on.

  • Determine how you’ll use breakout groups: Breakouts can be a welcome change from the large group dynamic and allow people to share more perspectives (they also keep people awake and on point).

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