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Most meeting participants embrace a set of similar values with different priorities.The difference lies in their relative strength, or ranking of the values.

Participants’ rankings however are not static. Their ranking modulates based on their perspective at the moment.

Hiring Characteristics as an Example

When selecting, interviewing, and hiring associates, most human relations experts would agree that five of the most important characteristics that are sought in new hires include (listed alphabetically):

  • Capacity (mental)
  • Integrity (moral)
  • Knowledge and Experience (physical)
  • Motivation (emotional)
  • Understanding (intellectual)

Traditional Prioritization

Similar Values with Different Priorities

Facilitating Different Priorities

Frequently, Knowledge and Experience filter out and disqualify potential hiring candidates. Next Understanding, typically reflected by educational degrees, may be used to filter more desirable from less desirable candidates. Next, Capacity is tested, frequently using actual test instruments about personality, cognitivity, and comprehension. Integrity is then considered, including perhaps, background checks to verify information and uncover undisclosed facts. Finally, Motivation is considered, but generally accepted, since it is assumed that those seeking employment are motivated by monetary gain, at minimum. Arranged in sequence of priority, the characteristics line up as follows:

  1. Knowledge and Experience (physical)
  2. Understanding (intellectual)
  3. Capacity (mental)
  4. Integrity (moral)
  5. Motivation (emotional)

Potential Prioritization

Pretend you own the company however. Contrary to the prioritization above, you would probably embrace the following prioritization when hiring a new employee:

  1. Integrity; because without integrity, all other actions are suspect at best, and dangerous at worst.
  2. Motivation; because without motivation, all other actions (or inactions) may be shallow.
  3. Capacity; because without mental capacity, actions may be blind.
  4. Understanding; because without understanding actions are impotent.
  5. Knowledge and Experience; lastly because without the attributes above, actions are misdirected or useless.

Note with the re-prioritization above, the complete reversal from Experience as number one to least important as number five. Participants with a bias toward the Traditional Prioritization will conflict, and make building consensus challenging when confronted by participants using the Potential Prioritization, or some other variation.

As a facilitator, what can you do about it? We discuss the proper sequence for building consensus around conflicting prioritization in other articles, The Three Steps to Conflict Resolution: Appeal to Purpose, Active Listening, and Enterprise Objectives.

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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