One of the most frequent complaints heard from leaders about meetings: “we keep covering the same things over and over and over again….”
Meeting participants frequently bring back issues already (supposedly) decided upon. And on the way to the parking lot, they will often disagree about what they even agreed upon!
Don’t you see Bill Murray rolling over and hitting the alarm clock, hearing “I Got You, Babe,” realizing it’s the same day as yesterday?
Don’t let this happen to you. You can go a long way to affect the results of your meetings by setting up some rules for getting to clarity and commitment.
Here are three easy but infrequently followed steps.
1. Consensus. The biggest reason that groups don’t reach true consensus is that most are afraid of conflict. Encouraging discussion in a safe environment helps people work through that. Make sure that everyone at the meeting has an opportunity to share their opinions about the topic at hand. Provide pros and cons. If there are quiet participants, the chair should solicit their input directly. This is the best way to reach consensus (and avoid that parking lot meeting after the meeting, which is the earliest sign of the groundhog).
2. Clarity. Once consensus is reached – either informally or by motion – the chair should repeat what just occurred to ensure that everyone is clear. Right after it happened, and again at the end of the meeting with an overall recap of the meeting results.
3. Commitment. At the end of the meeting, the chair should ask the participants to agree upon what messages should be included in a meeting report to members, directors, staff – whomever the group reports to. These messages should be short and sweet and clearly state what happened at the meeting. And, they should be in writing. A good way to ensure that everyone sees the results before final agreement is to display them on a screen at the meeting.
What do these three steps accomplish? First, it gives everyone a chance to agree or disagree AT the meeting, then to be certain about what they agreed to, and finally, to commit to it by sharing it with others not at the meeting.
Undertake these steps at your next meeting. And at the next meeting Bill Murray won’t be anywhere around.
[Note: There are many books and articles written about this topic, but one of my favorites is from Patrick Lencioni, who has written many business management books, several of which talk about commitment – Death by Meeting, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Silos, Politics, and Surf Wars, to name a few.]
We hope you’ll consider one or both of us for a leadership session in 2013. And, you can visit our Leadership Solutions here to see what other solutions we may have for you. You’ll not be disappointed. If you know you need some assistance in some way but aren’t sure how to approach the challenge, let us know and we’ll contact you to brainstorm some ideas. No strings attached.
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