At a Glance
The City Council of Chaska, MN & Chaska Human Rights Commission (HRC) members engaged in a virtual conflict resolution workshop designed to ensure that the organizations were collaborating on issues of racial equity and social justice.
The City of Chaska added Celebrate Diversity as a strategic direction into its 2019 Strategic Plan and are devoted to their goal for a racially equitable community. Several 2-year success indicators were determined including redefining the role of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and expanding member participation in the HRC. Just as the City Council and the HRC members were embarking on this journey; dealing with the sensitivity of racial tensions and inequity within the community, the murder of George Floyd occurred and exponentially amplified the sense of urgency for the City Council and the HRC to resolve issues and effectively collaborate toward building a racially equitable community for all.
In the past, both the City Council and the HRC were working within the community toward equity and inclusion; however, due to a lack of clear roles and coordination of services, the groups were working past each other rather than with each other. Frequent confusion in responsibilities, duplication of work, and lack of communication between members fostered an environment of frustration rather than trust.
Both groups had acknowledged that an outside facilitator with experience in local government would be essential in guiding the conversation between the Council and the HRC. In addition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not feasible to do the work in-person so a virtual facilitation solution would be necessary. Finally, the groups established three outcomes for the work of the team during the process: (1) establish an effective and efficient working relationship between the City Council and HRC; (2) agree to a shared understanding of team member roles, responsibilities, and objectives – including developing a shared understanding of what the HRC is and is not and (3) agree to shared expectations focused on how the City Council, City staff, and HRC members will all support one another to achieve success in their respective roles, responsibilities, and objectives.
With those outcomes in mind, the City of Chaska and the HRC engaged HueLife for the virtual facilitation services required for the project. HueLife was selected specifically for their considerable experience in successfully facilitating difficult conversations and workshops, their commitment to creating a safe space for difficult conversations to occur, and their incorporation of state-of-the-art techniques and processes that affords maximized learning and facilitation through a virtual environment. With those three foundational interests met, both groups could be assured that the work would move forward with individual members still maintaining strong positive and mutually supportive relationships among stakeholders.
City Council of Chaska, MN & Chaska Human Rights Commission (HRC) used/is using a virtual conflict resolution workshop to address this/these challenge(s).
HueLife provided virtual facilitation services for the Chaska groups, incorporating a variety of techniques and strategies that significantly contributed to the overall success of the project. The framework for the experience included the following components:
• Prep: Pre-interviews of team members to discover pain points, underlying alignment, and hopes for the workshop facilitation services safe space
• Facilitation: World Café to tap into the wisdom already present, create a safe space for people from different backgrounds to share their perspective, and to develop new insights as people from different experiences honor unique contributions and connect ideas
• Report: Delivery of written recap of meeting outcomes
During the pre-interview process, HueLife staff met with each City Council and HRC member individually. The interviews ultimately produced a social mirror that optimized self-reflection through others’ viewpoints. By discovering individual perspectives first, facilitators were able to paint a picture that acknowledged all perspectives – thereby assisting the group in finding common ground. Using a mural as a metaphor; each person held a unique piece of the puzzle and the process of putting all of them together allowed all participants to see the mural in its entirety.
The workshop was facilitated by three HueLife consultants in a large group format and in small breakout groups. By incorporating a World Café approach (moving participants through rounds of questions and moving from breakout room to breakout room) many different voices in the space surfaced each round resulting in tremendously rich and productive conversations. The World Café approach cultivated shared knowledge and understanding of the group by mining the intelligence and experiences of those who are present. Instead of focusing on what is missing, the group focused on what was in front of them. Their combined knowledge and insight emerged as creative thinking, collective discoveries, resolution & reflection, and the development of next action steps.
After the pre-interview process was completed, and after completion of only one facilitated session the group is now ready to move forward achieving the desired outcomes. Just as importantly, leadership was able to confidently demonstrate vulnerability, bravery, and listen to the strong desire, passion for, and commitment to racial equity in the community.
- Engaged in a successful virtual conflict resolution workshop with optimized stakeholder engagement
- Improved the working relationship between the City Council and the Human Rights Commission
- Developed a shared understanding of roles, responsibilities, and objectives – including shared understanding of what the Human Rights Commission is and is not
- Agreed to expectations around how the City Council, City staff and HRC members will all support success of the identified roles, responsibilities, and objectives
- Identified resources needed to implement objectives
Who Should Consider?
Human Rights Commissions; City Councils; Directors of Human Rights, Equity or Diversity and Inclusion; Equity Coaches; School Board members; Human Resources Professionals; Educational Leaders; County Boards