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Clearing the Air: A Lesson in Process Mapping

Keivan Zokaei

April 8th, 2024

 

In the midst of a fulfilling job, it’s disheartening to find oneself bogged down by negative comments and feedback from colleagues. Such was the case with one of my coachees who, despite enjoying their role, found themselves increasingly frustrated and hurt by after-hours criticisms via email or SMS from colleagues in other departments.

Feeling the weight of unfairness and defensiveness, my coachee and I recognized the need for a resolution. We agreed that a “clear the air” session was necessary, but with conflicting schedules, I enlisted the support of a fellow SA Partner to facilitate it in my absence.

Upon my return, I eagerly checked in on the session’s outcome and was pleased to hear that it went exceptionally well. What was intriguing, however, was the method used to achieve clarity. Instead of delving into deep introspection, the solution came through process mapping—a methodical approach to identifying and rectifying systemic issues.

During the preparation for the workshop, my colleague astutely noticed signs of a poorly understood and documented process. Rather than focusing solely on individual feedback and communication styles, he opted for a “four fields” process mapping session.

As the session unfolded, it became apparent that inadequate documentation and understanding of the process were at the root of the conflicts. By collaboratively documenting the process, team members gained insights into each other’s needs and contributions, diminishing the perceived conflicts and personality clashes.

While team dynamics and individual behaviors undoubtedly play a role in workplace harmony, it’s essential to consider the impact of flawed processes. Before embarking on soul-searching endeavors, ensuring that operational processes are clear and effective can preempt unnecessary conflicts and frustrations.

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