Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

The role of a manager or supervisor is to guide and lead staff in performing various activities and events successfully to achieve goals and objectives. Being able to work well with others and be part of a team is very crucial in language revitalization efforts.

It is well known that our communities struggle with lateral violence as a result of colonization and can manifest in programs as workplace conflict. Workplace productivity suffers from workplace conflict and our languages, cultures, and knowledge keepers cannot afford to lose productivity over personal issues. Our ability to handle conflict is filtered through many generations of colonial violence and it would be useful to spend some time re-learning how to communicate in healthy ways.

Conflict is inevitable regardless of lateral violence, but can actually be productive if handled in a healthy manner. Learning how to resolve issues and have open conversations is very important before the conflict gets worse and more difficult to resolve. Establishing ground rules for communication early as a prevention strategy is a good idea. This can come about by establishing policy, posting best communication strategies on a meeting agenda, or even posted in the office for people to see. You want to be clear about what is okay, what to avoid, and give examples.

EncouragedAvoid
Being straightforwardBeing passive-aggressive
Get to the pointBeing vague
Use I Language *I need you to be on time.Using “you” language *You always show up late.
Focus on the issueFocus on the person

At the end of this article, you will see an example of rules that could be added to staff meeting agendas so that everyone is clear on the expectations on how to communicate. Creating these rules as a team is a good way to get staff buy-in and involve everyone’s ideas, comments, and feedback. Try and phrase the rules as positively as possible. For example, “start on time” versus “don’t be late.” Staff meeting rules can also include procedural rules in addition to communication guidelines to ensure all aspects of the meetings go smooth. This doesn’t mean you have to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, but having the same procedure will provide consistency for your team. The idea of including the rules and procedures on staff meeting agendas serves as reminders and keeps the rules in mind. Communication habits are often subconscious and if they are not healthy communication habits it will require a level of conscious effort and reminders until new habits are formed.

An example of a staff meeting agenda with the rule and procedures follows.

Program

Date

Meeting Rules

  • Start on time and end on time.
  • Be mentally and emotionally present.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Allow others to finish speaking.
  • Address issues or challenges versus people
    • Issue or Challenge: “It is difficult to start meetings on time due to tardiness.”
      People: “Joe is always late.”
  • Be direct and specific and use I language
    • “I” language: “I need everyone to be punctual.”
    • “You” language: “You need to be punctual.”

Meeting Procedures

  • Facilitator and Notetaker identified in previous meeting.
  • Facilitator leads the meeting.
  • Note taker takes notes and generates a final meeting notes document within 3 business days.
  • Discussion and questions about agenda item will occur following the report of the item.
  • Action items will be noted and included in the meeting notes.

Agenda

  1. Agenda Item #1
  2. Agenda Item #2
  3. Agenda Item #3