Don't be surprised if and when, during some part of the meeting, an argument or heated exchange between members occurs. When this happens, discussion may quickly degenerate into name-calling and judgment, so it's important to fall back on the ground rules to stop the escalation of heated exchanges.
As we've mentioned before, the purpose of the safety committee meeting is to come to a decision about what works vs. what doesn't work. And, it's important to use those terms. It might be interesting to discuss some terms that raise a "red flag" during the meeting. As soon as the chairperson hears any of the following terms, it's important to intervene:
These terms above, and others like them, may point the finger of judgment about an idea, but the underlying implication is that the person, rather than the idea, is flawed. The implication may be further strengthened by the relationship message reflected in the tone of voice used.
Conflicts in meetings can be very disruptive. But they can also be very helpful. Remember, conflicts are disagreements. If the person who is disagreeing with you is raising valid questions, it may benefit the group to address the issues they are presenting. In fact, by listening to them, you may gain valuable insight into what is and what is not working within your organization. However, if the person continues past the point of disagreement to the point of disruptiveness, specific steps should be taken.
Below is a list of conflict resolution tactics that you can use for meetings that get "out of control."
Source: Texas Center for Women's Business Enterprise
Regardless of the type of conflict you are dealing with, there are several general guidelines you should follow whenever you are trying to bring harmony to a volatile situation. Here they are.
Problem situations in a meeting may have something to do with the level of participation of individual members: when they participate too much or too little in the meeting.
Too much participation: Other members may not be able to fully participate in meeting activities when an individual member is too vocal.
Over-participation may occur for a number of reasons, including:
Too little participation: When a safety committee member does not participate in meeting activities, their valuable input may be lost. The chairperson may not be able to accurately assess the degree of consensus that's taking place when members are silent.
Lack of participation may occur for several reasons, including:
One theme throughout all OSHAcademy courses is that, "for every effect, there is a cause." Each of these reasons for over- or under-participation above represent an effect which has a cause. It's important for the safety committee chairperson to determine the cause for these behaviors. Only after knowing the cause, can the solution be found. A personal talk with the committee member can help find the cause.
Mind Mapping is "instantaneous non-linear cognitive deduction utilizing spatial forms in a two-dimensional plane." Or, in more simple terms, mind mapping is merely drawing boxes and lines to help you quickly think about and categorize ideas, problems, concepts, subjects, and just about anything else. Mind mapping is successful because takes advantage of the brain's natural ability to categorize ideas in a rapid, but unorganized manner.
Look at the mind map to the right. At the center we write the problem. Then, try to think of the factors that are more obvious causes for the problem. (This works best by letting your subconscious do the work while you watch TV or work on another project.) Next, take a look at each factor listed and ask why that particular cause exists. After a while (minutes to hours) you will build a diagram similar in form (but not content) to the one below.
Using this technique, you will be able to take any topic, project, or problem and quickly determine related categories, processes, procedures, etc. Once the mind map is complete, it is merely a matter of reorganizing the information into the more common outline format.
Another tool similar to the mind map is called the Fishbone Diagram or "Cause and Effect" Diagram. Basically, it's just a mind map using a different form that reminds users of a fish with bones. The diagram has two sections: The effect and the causes.
Causes. The "causes" are represented by the arrows and boxes. Generally, the cause categories might be personnel, materials, equipment, environment, management, and miscellaneous methods/procedures.
As you can see in the diagram above, the large horizontal arrow pointing at the accident represents the surface cause(s) that directly caused the accident event. The six categories pointing to the surface cause arrow represent the possible root causes that might have somehow contributed to the accident.
Using the fishbone diagram is important because it forces the investigator to consider root causes, and the vast majority of accident investigations, when properly conducted, will uncover one or more root causes for an accident.
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