You already expect some topics during the meeting with employees to be tough. You even know what the possible ideas of both sides are. With the personality of the people involved in the meeting, you know it would be a rough discussion. Despite that, you have to face everyone and move ahead with the meeting. The goal is to stay productive even if you expect yelling and possible insults.
Talk to different groups separately first
You might already have an idea about the people who will end up fighting during the meeting. It’s not necessarily due to personal issues, but of how passionate everyone is. The employees want their ideas to succeed, and they will do everything to defend them. Understanding where they’re coming from will help you facilitate the meeting. You can also talk to them to stay calm during the larger conference.
If you have to preside the meeting, you need to set clear rules. Make sure that everyone understands the rules. You can’t allow the employees to talk over each other. It would help if you also reminded everyone of professional courtesy. Despite the differences in opinion, there could still be respect.
Determine how you’re going to settle the conflicts
It also helps if you can settle the differences in a democratic way. For instance, after presentations and discussions, you can put ideas to a vote. The results should be final, and everyone has to respect them. If a group of executives will decide, you should also make it clear to everyone.
Take one issue at a time
If you have several issues on the table, and all of them require detailed discussions, you have to take things one at a time. You can’t expect several resolutions in one meeting. If anything, you’re only making things worse. If time isn’t enough, you can schedule another meeting on a later date.
When people are hungry, they become angry. Given that the discussion could be fierce, you can at least provide snacks to lighten the mood. It’s also more fun to talk while eating than waiting until hunger strikes.
Never show you already chose a side
Even if you believe one idea over another, it doesn’t mean you have to be obvious. You need to maintain impartiality throughout the meeting. If one group feels like you favour the other, it could make things worse.
Another way to show you are fair is by giving everyone the chance to speak at an equal time. You can even allow a PowerPoint presentation if necessary. Don’t forget to invest in a projector ceiling mount so that the discussion would be smooth and professional. If you have a huge meeting room, it’s even better.
You can’t stop everyone from feeling passionate about a topic. You need to stay impartial and show that you also want to resolve the issues. Never let your emotions get in the way since everyone is already feeling stressed out. Be patient, and the meeting will eventually be over.