June 2, 2020

How to Talk About the George Floyd Uprisings at Work

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The world is not the same after this weekend. So don’t expect your team to be able to jump right into work.


Instead, engage them in a real conversation. I recommend using the Focused Conversation Method, pioneered by the group, the Technology of Participation.

>>>Check out this video below that talks about how to use this method with your team.

>>>And, here’s a pdf of slides that you can use with your team.

GET YOUR PDF HERE

A Focused Conversation is a facilitation technique geared specifically to help groups create a shared reality on difficult topics.


It originated in the 1960s in Chicago and has been used extensively by community organizers to help people make sense of a wide range of issues.  

It consists of 4 questions that get to the what, the gut, the so what, and the now what.

It’s an especially skillful method for all Agile Leaders to be familiar with and I’m going to share with you now how to have what might otherwise be an awkward conversation for run-of-the-mill managers.


So let’s start with the what. Ask your team, “What did we observe this weekend? What did we see? What did we hear?” No opinions - just build a shared reality around observations.


Then ask about the gut. Ask your team, “How are you feeling about the situation?” And really encourage them to list specific emotions - are they sad, anxious, ambivalent, inspired?


Then ask about the “so what.” Ask your team, “How are you making sense of what’s going on?”


This is also a time to ask about how the current situation might impact our abilities to focus on work.

Ask your team, “How might you personally be affected by what’s going on? What’s helping you make sense of what’s going on?

Lastly, ask about the “now what.”  Ask your team, “Are there certain community organizations or platforms we could support? What are some ways we, as a team, could take some positive action in our community?” And, when it comes to your work, ask your team, “What can we do to help ourselves do the best we can this week, given what we’re experiencing as a country right now?”


And, that’s it. Listen well. Ask questions. Give your team the space to share authentically with one another. And see what emerges. You might be surprised at how your team comes together for each other during this time.


Just remember, you, as the leader, are the one who creates the conditions for your team to do its best work, even in the midst of great social and political change in the larger world.  


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