Resurrecting the Meeting
Much-maligned and oft-avoided, meetings have become the newest battleground for efficacy, and rightly so. Meetings represent more than just our need to congregate and share information. A careful eye will see how most meetings are a microcosm of the larger workplace, displaying the best and worst in all of us: interpersonal conflict, political factions, conflicting agendas, unvoiced grievances, loyalty, affirmations, flashes of brilliance, and if were lucky, good, healthy conflict.
Healthy conflict is not an oxymoron. Its a necessary component in meetings. Just read Death by Meetings if you disagree. Perhaps the very negative connotation of conflict has been keeping it on everyones blacklist. So lets choose one of its synonyms: engagement. Everyone wants participants to be engaged during meetings.
The grain of sand around which a pearl is formed, the predator that shapes a species’ defense mechanisms, growth and adaptation are not a result of harmony. It takes a cycle of discord and resolution for that to occur and you need everyone on the team equipped for each stage of the cycle.
During your next team meeting, jot down answers to the following questions:
- Out of ____ participants, ____ contributed during the meeting.
- The reason that the meeting was held was to (blank).
- Before the next meeting, my assignment is to (blank).
- We made a decision today to move forward on a project. Y/N.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being low and 10 being high, the energy level in the meeting was _____.
- How many topics were covered in the meeting? _____
How comfortable would this group be if meetings were modified to include rich debate, taking and defending a stance, proving the value of ones ideas? The greatest barriers to effective meetings are: low engagement levels from participants (they just dont care and are marking time), ambiguous agendas (mish-mash of topics not truly prioritized in a meaningful way), no accountability or follow-through, no decisions, low energy, and lack of focus.
Teams who would tackle their meeting dysfunction would greatly leverage future improvements. Not only when they be shifting one of the greatest sources of frustration into an opportunity to progress team projects, but they would gain a clearer picture of the strategic direction of the organization, as well as the resources available to them to meet their tactical objectives.
Holding good meetings is part art and part science. Read further how Optima used Adventure Associates to improve their annual meetings.