We all continue to complain about meetings that waste time, money and effort…and the problem still continues. In my opinion, this is due to people tending to underestimate the complexity of group thought and leaders tending to use administrative skills instead of facilitative leadership skills in their meetings. When this happens, people fall into dysfunctional patterns of action or inaction, failing to do anything to change meeting dynamics.
A good friend and colleague, Steve Davis of Facilitator U, just published another edition of his e-book “This Meeting Sux: 12 Acts of Courage to Make Meetings Work”. In it he proposes criteria not just for meeting leaders but for all meeting participants (since all participants are co-responsible for the success or failure of a meeting):
1. K-NO-W IT! Know what honors you and your time and learn to say “no” to everything else. Learn enough about the purpose and intent of a meeting before it happens to make an educated decision around your potential contribution.
2. ASK FOR IT! . Get your agenda on the agenda. Boldly ask for what you want to create a path for others to follow or emulate, paths that provide direction and energy that is often lacking.
3. PREPARE FOR IT! Tap into your team wisdom by “doing your homework” and being thoroughly prepared, in order to use the collective energy of the team to create and not just catch up.
4. ADJUST IT: Your attitude is the foundation of your success and needs to be frequently adjusted. The mindset from which you make interventions as a team member has a strong bearing on how well you’ll be received. Be curious, observant, and patient.
5. SAY IT! We often hesitate to say what needs to be said in fear of making waves or upsetting someone. Understand your fear in order to respectfully express your truth for the good of the team.
6. FOCUS IT! Focus and refocus your team on the common vision of what you all have come together to do and on clear meeting objectives and procedures to achieve it.
7. PARK IT! Keep your team on target by avoiding tangents, repititions and distractions. Blackberry email checking and texting can reduce meeting efficiency by 40% and there are few executive teams that still allow it.
8. CONTAIN IT! Contain team energy within operating norms to protect it from dysfunctional behavior that dilutes a team’s physical and emotional energy, while still offering participants the freedom to creatively pursue their objectives.
9. DELIVER IT! Convert talk into action and decisions into deeds. . Be a catalyst for decision-making and action in your teams through the language you use, the energy you bring, and the action you model for others.
10. QUESTION IT! Avoid groupthink and access team wisdom: the collective conscience of your team and the way to enlightened decisions. Encourage diversity even though it’s human nature to want to maintain a sense of harmony.
11. FACILITATE IT! The idea of bringing people together is not just to get the sum of their knowledege and wisdom, but to sinergize, co-create and innovate new options. This requires the full participation and attention of everyone.
12. CELEBRATE IT! It’s all good, even the conflict (when you all transform it into co-creation). Learn from the past errors and celebrate every success.