Question: Our Management Team meetings are leaving us frustrated. Our personalities are very different yet we all agree that our meetings could be more effective. We have gotten into some bad habits – how can we make our meetings more productive?
Answer: Our preference as to how we show up in meetings, and in the world, is a result of our experiences and our perceptions of those experiences, which creates our unique personality and communication style. Each member of your team brings with them a different style… too often these styles conflict within a team.
For example, if one team member is naturally assertive and talkative and another is quiet and shy, these conflicting communication styles can impact the effectiveness of your team.
Management Team meetings are the place to make decisions which can impact the success of an organization, yet we all make decisions differently. Some of us make decisions based solely on facts and others make decisions based on feelings, while yet others with a combination of both.
Here are few suggestions to help lessen your frustration and ensure that everyone on your team is engaged and able to make the necessary decisions needed to maximize the potential of your organization.
1. Appoint a facilitator. A facilitator’s job is to lead the group; to help them improve the way they communicate, examine and solve problems, and make decisions. An experienced outside facilitator will keep your meeting on track or ensure that everyone participates. Alternatively, rotating your team members as facilitators gives each an opportunity to bring their unique style to the role.
2. Create an exceptional agenda. An agenda, like a road-map, helps your team achieve a desired outcome. To help ensure that important issues are addressed, the agenda should be created with the input of the team members. Some teams spend time at the end of a meeting preparing an agenda for next meeting.
The agenda should have an estimated time-frame for each topic and a leader who is responsible for distributing necessary supporting documents ahead of time. Being prepared allows those ‘analytical types’ the opportunity to review and prepare in advance which will help them make decisions more easily during the meeting. A meeting that has clear objectives, and accomplishes them, will motivate those ‘results-oriented’ types which will help keep them patient and focused.
3. Creativity takes time. Each personality type processes information differently and at varying speeds. Encourage people to build on ideas by giving enough time for each person to respond in their own time. When team members have time to formulate their thoughts, they are more likely to be creative and come up with best solutions.
4. Set the tone. Creating a positive atmosphere will get the most from your team members. Meetings where conflict isn’t resolved or personal criticism is allowed creates stress within a team. Stress causes those that are conflict-averse to shut down for fear of drawing attention to themselves. Stress causes those that are assertive to become aggressive which, in turn, causes more stress for the team. For teams that have a history of conflict, creating a code of behaviour will move the team from conflict to collaboration.
By letting each member know they bring their unique personality and communication style to the team and are a valued member of the team, you will teach your members to respect each other for their contributions and set the tone for productive meetings with positive outcomes.