We were facilitating at a safety summit #thfsafety earlier this week where patient safety was on the agenda which got me thinking about how safe the workforce are when they are in the hands of others in meetings and workshops.
In so many meetings (and let’s face it many people spend many hours of their working lives in meetings) little attention is paid to building a climate in which people will feel safe to share their honest insight, observations, knowledge, ideas or experience for the benefit of the organisation for fear of the potential harm that will occur to them. Safety is assumed not made explicit. Harm can arise through judgement, put downs, aggression and undermining of the individual or contribution which impacts both on the individual and others in the group who may not continue to contribute in order to avoid ‘harm’ and by virtue of that the organisation is harmed through losing such contributions which may have helped to improve and add value to potential plans of action.
Skilled facilitators are concerned with the safety of the group, of providing the container in which participants will be able to contribute optimally and be mindful of the expectations and responsibilities they and others have within the group to support the that. Call them ground rules, group contract or how we agree to work together to achieve our objectives, they are the foundation for facilitating effective groups. See Roger Schwartz for his Ground Rules for Effective Groups in the Skilled Facilitator.
How safe do we feel in our meetings?- now that would be the first ‘discuss the un-discussable issues at your next meeting!