One of the most exciting parts about running a student organization is gathering a group of students with varying backgrounds and interests to work towards a common goal. With many different viewpoints in the mix you will certainly run into disagreements. This is perfectly normal - every group goes through a variety of developmental phases as they make their way through the year.
Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development
Sometimes conflict can be a necessary and inevitable part of a student organization in order to grow and deliver better results. Groups, as well as individual members, can move through these phases at entirely different paces and your goal as a student leader should be to facilitate conversations and activities to help move forward. An organization can go through these five stages many times in the course of the year - often triggered by new changes and challenges that are introduced to your operations. Sometimes change and growth can take time and there is nothing you can do to “solve” a situation - you must simply let it play out and guide the future direction from there.
1) Group Discussion
No-one knows your organizations and members better than yourself - try to have a conversation to resolve issues on your own. Remember these key pointers to create a neutral and calm environment to work through concerns:
- Assure equal representation for all sides of an issue. Nothing feels worse than walking into a meeting when it's nine members versus one.
- Give everyone space to talk and express their understanding of the situation. Invite an uninvolved person to help mediate the conversation, if needed.
- Co-create a solution. It's okay to brainstorm possible solutions before the meeting, but remain open to what others will bring to the table.
- Focus on behavior or root causes, not the person. If someone has taken steps to be a member of your organization they most likely want it to succeed.
2) Conflict Resolution
Have you tried to resolve a group conflict and it didn’t work? Is the situation you’re dealing with a bit more complicated? Utilize the free services provided by the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution office on campus. They can provide a mediated conversation, group workshops, and a variety of other services to make resolving your conflict easier.
3) CSI Liaisons
Need someone to bounce a “what if” scenario off of? Looking for a quick suggestion on how to approach a situation? Contact your CSI Liaison via email or set up a meeting with them.