Consensus Building

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Consensus Building

The chief difficulty in meetings is to arrive at a consensus because of disagreements within the members of the team. However, absence of disagreements does not guarantee that an effective consensus can be made. Effective consensus can be arrived when divergent views and competing goals are agreed upon as shared goals. Not everyone will get what they initially wanted but reaching to a consensus is all about meeting the relevant interests of all the stakeholders. Consensus building is often difficult and challenging; but it can be made possible when facilitated by an outside neutral party such as a facilitator. Success of a consensus-building session is being able to assist in management’s conversation by laying the essential ground rules and intervening only when ground rules are violated. The facilitator sets the ground rules before the start of the discussion, reminds the team of their common goals and its significance, and help the group reach their decisions by respecting each other’s views. It is the members of the group who collect information, formulate ideas, take responsibility and defend their views. However, the facilitator is the catalyst in building a consensus merely by his presence and essential intervention. The outcome of the meeting i.e. the shared goals is achieved by the collaborative effort and personal agenda of the team.

There are There important points to be kept in mind to ensure the relevance of a consensus building session.

  • The participants in the meeting should be dependent on each other that no one person can decide without consulting the others. Unless everyone has a say and each member has an important part, the process is just a waste of time and effort.
  • Participants must be willing to take accountability to the decision made in the end of the session. The implementation of the decision will be smooth only if the they are accountable to what happened in the consensus-building session.
  • The decision made should be flexible, so that with the change in the policies and work style of the organization, the process can also be changed.

The significance of the facilitator in consensus building can be attributed to facilitating the members of the meeting:

  • to communicate effectively irrespective of different views
  • build relations and
  • address difficult issues.
  • The facilitator helps the ‘talk, listen and decide’ sequence go right which is essential for consensus building. The facilitator guides the whole process of consensus building without voicing his opinion or contributing his knowledge on the content under discussion. The facilitator is well aware that the responsibility of arriving at a consensus lies in the hands of the members of the meeting and his role is only to make the process easier. Being a moderator to ensure consensus in a meeting is a skill and has to be done objectively. Hence, third-party moderation is advised. Consensus-building can also be done in by a facilitator within the house if rightly trained. We, at Strengthscape, have experienced facilitators who have mastered the art of third-party moderation to ensure consensus in a meeting. At the same time, we are also equipped with trainers who can impart the skill of consensus-building moderation to the needed.