The Importance of Communication –Part IV
Next week we are facilitating a meeting with a group that has not met since May 2018. Prior to that last session the group had been meeting almost on a monthly basis for the previous several years. So, as in the previous blog in putting together this meeting, decisions were made who would participate, an agenda was developed, previous ground rules were reinforced and logistics on how to conduct the meeting were determined. And, of course, all of this was communicated to the participants.
And as we work with that group, we understand the importance how to run that meeting to meet their objectives. In moving from preparation of a meeting to actually running the meeting, we will continue to need effective communication skills. For that we break down “running the meeting” into two steps a) opening the meeting and b) running the meeting. For this blog, our focus will be on opening the meeting. Now this should be simple yet many a meeting can go off track because we don’t take the time to properly start/open the meeting.
We both have been in meetings where whoever is “in charge” says let’s begin and starts talking immediately about the issues. We say stop. Because there are some important questions that have not been answered, Is everyone else ready to begin? What exactly are we doing? How will we get there?
Opening a meeting also requires preparation and communication because to move forward requires “buy-in” from the group. So, whether you are the group’s facilitator or chairperson (co-chairs) there are some basic tenets to getting a meeting started.
First, have everyone introduce themselves. Sounds simple, but don’t assume everyone knows each other. Especially if the meeting involves others from different parts of your organization. Also, in our meeting next week, there are four new participants from the May 2018 meeting.
In our experience we use introductions to ask these questions like,
1) tell us your name;
2) what you do;
and 3) what your expectations for the meeting
Let’s focus on #3. Why is that question important? The best way we can answer that is while I know why I am in this meeting do I really know why you are there? Don’t guess and don’t assume; let them tell you. Even if their response is “I don’t know” or I am here to find out, at least now the group knows that.
Now, you may ask doesn’t this take time and we may be on a strict time constraint. Short answer is yes. Also, you may have a lot of people in the room (which in itself may be a problem) therefore, getting expectations may not always be realistic. However, should you do this, remember this one rule, these expectations are not up for debate. Your only objective here is to listen and learn what others expect.
Once introductions are done it’s a good idea to reinforce and/or establish roles and responsibilities. Is there a group leader(s) who will lead the discussion, does the group have a facilitator and recorder, who is the group’s timekeeper ensuring you have enough time to discuss the issues? These are critical roles to any group’s success. Everyone needs to understand and be on board with who is doing what. The same applies to reviewing/reinforcing behaviors (ground rules) for the meeting.
So, we have introduced each other, established roles and reinforced our ground rules. Now, and maybe most critical we need to review the agenda.
Most meetings occur at least several days and/or weeks after the agenda has been prepared and sent to the group. Workplace issues can and do change during that time and these changes could impact your meeting. There can also be new issues that arise after the agenda has been prepared that could also impact your meeting.
Connect with us today. Follow this link to take advantage of our discount price for first time Clients. We look forward to assisting you.By taking the time to review the agenda we can make everyone aware of these issues and allow the group together to amend the agenda to reflect these changes. Remember the Agenda is like GPS in that while it guides you, we still do the driving. And haven’t we all because of unforeseen circumstance needed to change directions to get where we want to go.
And once again even with the “simple” task of opening/starting a meeting, we can see the importance of effective communication in helping us meet our objectives.
So, until next time I & I Resolutions remain committed to helping groups resolve their issues and become more productive.
We’d like to hear from you. Are you finding it difficult to navigate through your meetings?
Does communication seem to be a challenge?
Why not take advantage of our First Time Complimentary Consultation Service? We are standing by to get your questions answered!
Just came back from Montreal Jazz Festival. Survived heat wave while listening to incredible music with artists from Canada, US, England, Columbia and even Australia. In thinking about our next blog, realized that playing music in a band is a lot like being a team member in your organization.
How, you ask. Well consider you have a diverse group of musicians, and they play different instruments. Yet, their goal is for each of them to contribute to music you will listen to. Now in your organization a diverse group of employees with different skill sets. And you each contribute to what the mission is. Further even when one musician steps out for a solo, it’s done within the context of the whole song. Again, when an individual takes a lead on a presentation or project, it’s done within the context of the whole project.
Also, I think we all agree musicians do not simply come together and make great music immediately. Just taking a wild guess, took many hours of practice. Having to learn each other’s needs & strengths and how to mesh them towards the music. Another guess, that journey had some conflict and they had to work through that also.
Now, in your organization, don’t you need to learn each other’s needs and strengths to reach your objective. And to reach that goal, won’t there be conflict you must deal with and resolve. The answer to both those questions is YES.
So, the next time you are listening to and enjoying music, just think about what it took to make that music and how that is similar to what we all should be should be doing.
At I & I Resolutions, we cannot make you great musicians, however, we can help your organization work together, including helping you resolve those conflicts that can prevent you from accomplishing your goal. So, let's connect and discuss ways we can bring you closer to your objectives.
Until the next time from the table of Thomas and Andy, to quote the Doobie Brothers, “Listen to the Music.” Take care and talk soon.
Long ago, I heard the following story. A manager asks a scientist, mathematician and labor relations specialist/lawyer or union official (pick one) what is 2 +2. The scientist goes through many scientific equations and theories and comes up with 4. The mathematician does the same. The labor folks look the manager in the eye, close the door to the office and asks, “What do you want it to be?”
That story resonates when you think about labor law v. labor relations. Many of us know the law, and we can read the cases. But who determines the law? Arbitrators, judges, administrative agencies. Even if they are deciding “precedent” setting cases, should that decide what our relationship should be. So, let’s ask the critical question, who determines our work relationships?
Several weeks ago, we did some training for an agency and union officials that included communication/problem-solving training. After the session, a manager told us that he recently asked his employees & managers what prevented them from doing their job and the #1 response was the inability to work with others, lack of communication and trust. In other words, the RELATIONSHIP, not the law.
So, again not diminishing the importance of knowing what our rights are or having the technical skills & equipment to do our jobs, the key component to doing our jobs effectively is our ability to work with others and develop those relationships. It’s those pesky soft-skills that have too many rolling their eyes when they hear that term. Another question; if these are soft skills, why are they so hard to learn and implement? We can answer that question for another time.
However, back to the question of who determines our relationship. The simple answer is easy, we do. The more difficult question is what kind of relationship do we want? We can choose to have third-parties make decisions for us. Pretty easy. Or we can make the effort and develop a relationship that benefits everyone involved. Pretty hard, yet not impossible.
At I & I Resolutions, we will work with you to develop that relationship by providing the skills that will allow you to do your jobs. Our slogan, “We care because you matter”, is not just words. It’s a philosophy that we believe in, and work towards.
Until the next time from the table of Thomas & Andy, Happy Memorial Day.
As children we resolved our dispute using the weapons of words because size was so disparate. Words are powerful and they are the essence of mediation. We need to convey our thoughts and feelings through the words we communicate including validating those thoughts & feelings. Also, one of the great compliments we constantly hear about mediation is that may be the first and only opportunity to convey your thoughts and feelings in a safe place.
One of the best descriptions we have heard about mediation is that it is a facilitated discussion where all of the parties in the dispute can speak their thoughts/feelings and listen to the thoughts/feelings of others.
With the assistance of an impartial third party, we can do what we did as children growing up, use discussion and talk to each other instead of past each other. This usually leads to more durable resolutions (again see how important defining the problem). Also, even if the parties do not resolve the conflict mediation, they are miles ahead of where they were in understanding the conflict and each other.
Thomas and Andy feel uniquely qualified as mediators and conversationalists to help you by actively listening to your issues and concerns and asking the right questions to draw out the true conflict.
Be sure to look next week as we address the topic of people’s feelings.
(Part 1) What’s the problem? Easy question, or so it seems? Before you go charging your Omaha beach, let’s take a step back and let’s begin a metaphoric pre or post mortem if you will, of common misunderstandings of most practitioners have in ‘what’s the problem”
Conflict is critical in life and most stories, plays and TV shows. How it is developed for media is one thing. How it unfolds in life, uncontrolled, is quite another!
In a land of make believe, we can control & utilize conflict in a variety of ways. In the real world, workplace, it does not work like that. A critical misunderstanding from theorists and non-practitioners is to solve a problem without really understanding with what they are trying to solve.
Let us recap. Already we have defined conflict as real and fictitious and we have spoken conflict that is controlled and that which is not. For example, what would MASH be like without the character of Frank Burns, the antagonis? Or the Big Bang Theory without Sheldon and countless conflict with everyone. Again, this is controlled and done for purpose.
Uncontrolled conflict by its nature, is not as manipulative, but can have the same positive effects if identified properly. Think about it, do we dive into a car repair, medical issue, house repair, without first properly defining what the problem and how much it will it cost. Once you understand the problem and the cost, then you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Therefore, before any of us try to resolve any problems, it behooves to properly take the time to identify what the real problem is. In the workplace it could be something as simple as a work procedure, or as complicated as how you act with other employees. Thomas and Andy have done this with numerous individuals and groups and seen it work. They guarantee few things, but as close guarantee as they would, if you utilize their services you will have made a herculean effort and succeed in defining what your problem is.
Stayed tune, more to follow (film at 11).
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