This afternoon, I responded to a conversation regarding encouraging dissent and achieving additional participation in meetings when voting on proposals. Likely, this is a topic we can all relate to. It is not a surprise that most folks do not get excited when asked to participate in meetings. I recently read an article by Adam Kleinberg titled “7 reasons why people hate being in meetings with you”. That was only the first article of the day during my exploration that referenced the uncomfortable, unclear, and at times painful dynamic present during the meetings we attend.
If that is the case, knowing that we are often in problem solving mode during meetings which requires a vote process to determine our willingness to move forward, is it fair to say we should ensure that the meeting environment itself is conducive to discussion, disagreement, and resolution? If so, I would suggest that we get to work and make sure the processes we put forth works well for our team and is not merely in keeping with our historical approach as facilitator.
If that is the priority, the challenge for us as leaders should be to encourage, support and foster an environment of active participation. If so, now we can vote. Yea or nah?
Below is my response to Leadership Freak when reviewing the “Five-To-Fold-Decision-Making-Model. Chime in and let me know your thoughts.
Discovery and inclusion are such important components of the decision-making process, I ultimately support any method which allows for positive results.
As a meeting participant, I have received the request to offer a visual showing of support with five to fold, thumbs, hands, clapping, and of course a simple verbal response.
I believe that all approaches have merit however, I have never used them. As a regular facilitator of meetings, trainings, lectures, etc, I have attempted to create a collaborative environment based upon the expectation (at times bordering on requirement) of active participation.
Of course, that is easier said than done.
Here are some of the things I consider when presenting voting topics.
Do I have a collaborative team willing to speak their minds? If yes, outstanding.
If not, I have challenged myself with better understanding why.
The quick answer is, I have not considered the processing style of the various players on my team. As an example, I have offered myself up for many years as a doer, willing to make decisions in the moment. As I’ve grown older, that approach has changed for me.
What I have found is that I often hesitate when making a decision or even participating because I feel unprepared to do so.
My suggestions are:
1) Give the agenda topics to your team in advance. Allow them an opportunity analyze in private and in advance. You will often find a much more prepared and active team.
2) Reach out to all of the players involved in your decision-making process to better understand how they process information. Are they visual? Do they need graphs and charts? Do they like to ask questions off-line etc? Give them what they need.
3) Prepare for the devils advocate. Their rationale can either derail or truly enhance a conversation.
4) Saying that opinions are valued in a “safe” working environment doesn’t make it so. Do you have the credibility to make that assertion? Safety is attributed to trust, trust is attributed to deeper more intimate connections, and the deeper connections come from grounded relationships.
5) Always exhibit transparency. If you are troubled with a proposal or decision, be willing to publicly show up for what you believe.
6) Don’t settle for an approach if it isn’t working. You can tell when something doesn’t work with your teams. Sometimes I have actually heard eyes roll while presenting a new idea or program similar to what we are discussing.
Thanks for opening up the conversation.
[…] Use all channels of communication and keep people informed. Person-to-person exchanges are ideal but are not always practical, especially in meetings. If you are a leader that feels strongly about using meetings as a primary means of communication – great. Meetings can be excellent tools however, use them wisely. Create an environment where a thoughtful conversation can be had and please, don’t hit your team with surprises. For suggestions on facilitating effective meetings, look through this previous post, “bringing it to vote“. […]