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!
We recently attended a conference on labor-management relations where one of the topics was labor-management cooperation. Part of that discussion was on why the Obama Executive Order 13522 to create labor-management forums was rescinded with the reason being the goal of cooperation was not working. And our reaction was, what???
For the hundreds of groups, we have worked with, not once has their objective been collaboration. No, they wanted to solve a problem, make a decision, come up with a recommendation, tangible results. Collaboration was the right strategy to reach those objectives.
One of our pet peeves (we have a few) is when people who don’t believe in working together describe collaboration as that “touchy feely” stuff or singing kumbaya. Yes, we believe in working together and we believe an interest-based approach is the BEST way to resolve problems. Now let’s actually look at what an interest-based approach is, a process by which participants work to SOLVE PROBLEMS while simultaneously fulfilling their needs and attempting to satisfy the needs of others.
Let’s be clear, the objective when using an interest-based approach is to solve a problem. And by solving that problem we need to work with others to address and meet each other’s interests. Easy to understand, hard to do. Try to get together with family & friends about where you want to go to dinner. See what happens when you don’t agree on the same place and have to work to come up with a solution.
When it works (and it does work) the tangible result is the problem being solved, the intangible result is learning to work together to resolve the problem (collaboration).
So, to wrap up, we believe the best results come from working together. We also believe that collaboration has to result in agency, company, organization working better. At I & I Resolutions we can help you design those strategies that can help you resolve issues while also improving your relationship. Connect with Us
Until the next time from Thomas and Andy, have a great day.
It’s just too expensive, the time involved, training employees of the line, taking time to define the problem, employee feedback, their thoughts on how to make it better, I am the boss, and they should just listen to me and do as I say! I know, all valid but hold that thought!
First and foremost, utilizing facilitative and meditative process surrenders nothing! You are still the boss, this is not co-management as is often feared. The employer will simply deny their right to possibly finding a better and more productive workplace and workforce and will definitely be at least very challenged on defining the problem.
Yes, there is a little front loading on time and expense, but in the end, the employer, employee and the company as a whole will be far better off with a least a basic understanding of what the problem is!
Now let’s consider how much a non-productive employee cost. This employee may just have some issues they want heard, unabridged. Sometimes the solutions are simple, and once the problem has been heard and defined.
Yet now consider the unhappy employee, not heard, if he or she becomes a saboteur! This also does not take into account employee absenteeism, time away from the job, lower production, etc.
And finally, the tension will come out somewhere and one has to wonder how much workplace violence, threats, intimidations, stalking’s etc. could have been minimized or avoided, had the employer simply listened and effectively communicated to their workforce!
Listening and respecting your employees’ thoughts and ideas is a sign of strength of leadership, not a weakness, as is sometimes thought and believed. After all, who knows better how to better do the job than those who do it!
Now everything may not resolve this easily but I can tell you from experience, a lot of what we believe are huge problems can in fact be resolved with a little front loading, listening and communication!
Now do you still think that Collaborative problem solving is too expensive?
Take a few moments to speak with us. It could make a positive difference in your workplace.
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