The Relationships-by-Objectives facilitated process

10 February 2020

Workplace relationships in South Africa produce many challenges. A while back I was facilitating a workplace relationship process and the workers kept accusing management of being racist. Management was puzzled by this and protested that they could not be racist as they were all black and the workers were all black. The workers explained that although management was black, they behaved like white management and wanted to break black worker solidarity. Management responded that this was nonsense and that in fact, the workers were racist because they were trying to undermine black management to achieve black worker control.

The exchange suggested to me that the parties had made a range of assumptions about each other and held various prejudices and stereotypes which made it very difficult for them to listen to each other, let alone truly hear what the other was saying.

As the only white person in the room, I found this a fascinating exchange and I realised I had a challenge on my hands. As always, I trusted in the Relationship-by-Objectives (RBO) process that the parties had agreed to subject themselves to which helped them not only to listen to each other but to actually hear what the other was saying. In the end, the parties managed, through the RBO process to greatly improve their relationship.

In essence, the RBO process involved getting the parties to separately identify in detail the precise nature of the relationship problems between themselves; then to share their perspectives on those problems with each other and to ensure that they truly understood each other’s perspectives; the problems were then sorted into agreed themes and the parties then, in a joint problem-solving way, set objectives to improve their relationship and to find solutions to the problems; after this, the parties formulated detailed, practical and agreed action plans to address the objectives and the problems and, finally they agreed on how to review and monitor those action plans.

If you would like to hear more about the process and acquire the skills join us on 27th February 2020 to learn more. Click HERE for further details. We also have a number of accredited facilitators skilled in managing the RBO process, see HERE

- John Brand