January 28, 2016 3 Comments
An unfacilitated meeting can be led (or misled) from any chair in the room. If you are the meeting host, or even participating in someone else’s meeting, here are seven quick tips to ensure that you add optimal value.
- If it is your meeting, ask a facilitator to lead the group through major decision-making, prioritization, and solution finding activities. Having a facilitator enables you to participate fully and gives the responsibility for policing the process to a neutral person.
- Strive to organize your thoughts before speaking. Then express your idea simply, logically, and concisely. People are more receptive to ideas they understand. Long, complex explanations work against you. Some meeting participants have been known to make great contributions. Some meeting participants have been known to make long contributions. Rarely will you witness a great, long contribution.
- Respect others, knowing that there is usually more than one right answer. Different views force us to develop new ideas and more ideas equates to higher quality decisions. The best way to win a debate is to fully understand the other party’s position, so listen carefully. When you talk, you are repeating something you already know. When you listen, you learn something new.
- Use encouraging and positive comments during your meeting. Negative comments create defensive reactions that distract from business goals. There is no need to play favorites or even cheer a particular person’s contributions, but speak positively about the overall value and velocity of everyone’s contributions.
- Use structured activities that lead to solid outputs and deliverables. Methodological tools ensure equitable participation and systematic progress toward results that can be documented. If it is not documented, then it did not happen. Do NOT rely on informal, unstructured discussion. Discussion, percussion, and concussion are all related—to the headache of uncertainty about “What actually happened in that meeting?”.
- Focus on one issue at a time and close it down before moving on. Most groups can solve any problem if you maintain focus on the appropriate question. However, getting a group of people to focus at the same remains the biggest challenge during any meeting. Avoid war stories and unrelated issues. Past experience is no guarantee of the future state. Out of scope discussions are a waste of time, distract the desired focus, and mislead others. The cause of most project failures is scope creep, and the same problem applies to meetings, especially when they are unstructured.
- Rescue wayward meetings by challenging participants to think clearly. Unclear speaking and writing is indicative of unclear thinking. Teach them how to think, and always build consensus around WHY something is important, before discussing WHAT the options are, followed by HOW we should proceed.
Reply with any questions you might have by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.
Become Part of the Solution—Improve Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.
- How to Communicate Meeting and Workshop Results (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- How to Facilitate Simple Prioritization (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- How to Facilitate Alignment (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- Responsibility Matrix, Agenda Design, and Parking Lot Management (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- Five Reasons to Hold a Facilitated Session (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- Five Problems with Meetings and What To Do About Them (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)