14 Feb

Some forms of conflict require advanced facilitation, and others can be worked out by open dialogue and a little time spent together to work through differences. 

An everyday activity used in business can be applied to conflict resolution: Start, Stop, Change. Sometimes referred to as “Start, Stop, Continue” or “Stop/Delta,” internal team members can run these meetings to bring issues to the forefront and lead a group through articulating a path forward.

Let’s break it down: 

Ground Rules 

Start each facilitation session or conflict resolution meeting by setting ground rules and getting each participant’s buy-in to those rules. Post the rules (or use a digital whiteboard for virtual meetings) and refer to them as often as necessary. Examples of ground rules: 

  • Stick to specific observations
  • Avoid generalizations
  • Please don’t make it personal
  • Confidentiality (Vegas rule)
  • No repercussions for people who participate openly and honestly, if we are all professional
  • Everyone participates
  • Everyone shares in the future state, which means adjusting for the sake of the team’s success

 Issue Identification 

For some conflict resolution sessions, there is a specific issue at the forefront of the situation. Often, there is a combination of factors or smaller issues contributing to the conflict. It can be time consuming and unproductive to take each issue one at a time (especially if the contributing factors and possible solutions are interrelated). For this exercise, we recommend getting all the issues out on the table at once. We do not problem solve at this point, but we want to ensure understanding of the issue. Frequently ask the group if they understand the issues on the table, which is not the same as asking for agreement. 

Stop, Start, Change 

Now we move into problem-solving. We make three columns and agree as a group on things we collectively need to stop doing, start doing, and do differently. Some facilitators like the change column to be “continue” so decide which works best for your team and your situation. I prefer to go one column at a time to focus the group’s thinking. 

Let people suggest things and when the conversation dies down, ask if there are any items listed that people do not agree with or need more information to understand. 

What if no one speaks up? Sit quietly. Someone will fill the silence. If necessary, clarify the “ask” and sit quietly again. 

Ask the group for commitment to each thing on the list. If someone is hung up on an item, revisit it until each person can agree. 

Individual Buy-In 

Now that the group has collectively agreed to each thing that needs to be started, stopped, or changed, it is time to get everyone committed to their part. Have each participant name at least one thing they will personally commit to doing in the next week. 

Next Steps 

In closing, agree on when and how each person will be held accountable. How will the group hold itself accountable, and what will the cadence be to revisiting these commitments?

 A professional or internal facilitator can use the Stop, Start, Change exercise. 

At Deep End Talent Strategies, we are often called upon to facilitate team sessions. 

Going it alone?

Download our free template presentation to facilitate this within your organization. 

Shawna Lake is the Founder of Deep End Talent Strategies, an HR consulting firm based in Indianapolis, works with growing businesses throughout the US.



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