Wick Communications

Let’s have a meeting

In Management on March 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Hey, do you like a good meeting? You know, the kind where you rally around the big conference table in the window-less office to hear coworkers blather on about how they can’t possibly do what needs to be done?

I know you do! And who doesn’t?

OK, seriously: meetings are a fact of life. I can’t think of too many professions that don’t require meetings of some kind. King Arthur had his roundtable. The president meets regularly with the cabinet. Even the football huddle is a type of meeting. On the news side we have to have weekly and sometimes even daily meetings to make sure we are all on the same page and that our coverage is cohesive and comprehensive.

If we all have them, shouldn’t we take steps to make them more fruitful, if not downright enjoyable?

I got to thinking about this topic after reading Lauren Owen’s fine post on the redpointcoaching blog. I was most taken by the third of her 10 suggestions (topic for the next meeting: Why do these things always come in 10s?) Here’s Lauren:

Good Drama. Not the door slamming, storming out of the room, shouting kind of drama, but the drama that results in people passionately debating their positions on a particular issue. Bad meetings lack this type of productive conflict. Patrick Lencioni, in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, names fear of any kind of conflict as one of the major dysfunctions of a team. It’s because without healthy conflict, people are afraid to share their opinions. … This, in turn, leads to environments where back-channel politics and personal attacks thrive. Ironically, lack of healthy conflict leads to the unhealthy kind. Good meetings have lively discussions and create a safe environment in which people are able to share their strong views…

I agree. And I’ve been in meetings in which participants were afraid to speak their mind. As Lauren suggests, the result is a lot of sniping and skullduggery after the meeting is over. Not good.

To my mind, creativity is a lot like democracy: Out of the pell-mell of ideas comes something good. It may not be pretty and it may make some people uncomfortable. But make sure you let people express themselves openly – in an orderly and respectful way – and I guarantee everyone will leave with a greater sense of purpose and commitment.

Clay

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