Meetingsby Steve Roche
Regular meetings are common with teams, project groups, department staff and many other groups in an organisation. These are often a necessary part of working together effectively but there is a need for you to manage the meetings so as to keep them fresh and relevant, and to avoid ‘groupthink’.
The danger with regular meetings is that people sit in the same places, form cliques, and assume set roles. Everyone expects the usual dynamic to be repeated. The meeting can get ‘cosy’ and you can get complacent about running it. Look to make improvements in your meetings all the time, and then people will be keen to attend your meetings as they know it will be a worthwhile exercise.
Here are some ideas you can use to improve your regular meetings.
- Schedule the meetings at different times and/or in different places
- Only meet when there is something to discuss
- At each meeting, have a member of the team do a small slot on something relevant and of interest to the team e.g. a précis of a training they recently attended
- Invite a guest attendee to contribute
- Ensure the seating arrangements vary each time. (You could even have some of them standing up)
- Keep the meetings short and focussed.
- Start on time, even if regular people are not yet present
- Have a ‘quote of the day’ on a flip chart
- Change the agenda each meeting. Even if it is the same issue, change the wording so it is focussed on the current outcome or next step for that issue
- Keep the agendas small and focussed
- Don’t let the current ‘panic’ issue overshadow regular items
- Clear off smaller and easier issues first
Groupthink is a phenomenon that refers to faulty decision-making that can occur in a cohesive group when they are under pressure to come up with a quality decision. The group does not consider enough alternatives and seeks unanimity and comfort at the expense of quality decisions. Some ways to avoid this are
- Use an outside expert within the decision process
- Divide the team into sub-groups to come up with alternatives
- Use a devil’s advocate to question all the team’s ideas
- Have influential leaders step aside for a while to allow the team to operate without them
- Hold a ‘second chance’ meeting to review a decision after the team has had time to reflect and discuss the decision outside the team
Be careful with regular group meetings. Their very regularity can lead to them being undervalued and underused. Seek to introduce some variety to keep them fresh and vitalised.