There are many reasons for holding a meeting, for example setting goals, making decisions, strategy planning, defining roles, making plans, building consensus and alignment. And there are many things that get in the way of a good meeting too – it’s our job as meeting facilitators to help clients avoid meeting blockers and successfully deal with difficult situations.
When it comes to bad meetings, some of the biggest culprits:
Many people find it easy to say “no” to everything. Saying no keeps them on familiar territory, safe from the unknown. However these naysayers block progress and stop important new ideas.
Groupthink has been defined by Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius, as “a state of lazy, shared consensus where no one wants to rock the boat”, wary of anything that challenges their assumptions.
Often some people aren’t fully invested in the purpose and outcome of a meeting. If you’re in a meeting, give the topic your full attention and respect, and demand it of your colleagues too.
Often people will keep ideas and opinions to themselves for fear of being judged or disagreed with by other team members. Build an atmosphere where people feel safe to speak up.
Some topics are controversial, and participants may find it hard to keep their emotions in check. This can lead to conflict, which can sometimes turn nasty. Deal with this carefully and considerately.
While you don’t need to go so far as to ban laptops and smartphones from meetings, you should ask that participants use them responsibly, respecting the focus and flow of the meeting.
Much to the frustration of others, some people dominate meetings, hogging the floor or making all the decisions. They often use meetings for self-validation and ego-massaging.
Meetings can quickly go off the rails when conversations veer off-topic and into pet projects and issues off the agenda. It’s best to park these issues for later and get back on track.
Many meetings are dominated by the “highest paid person’s opinion”, with other attendees too scared to question their wisdom. This scenario can be dangerous for a team’s health and objectivity.
Do any of those resonate with you – have you experienced meetings recently where some of these blockers have reared their ugly heads?
Now that you’ve read about meeting blockers, you’ll probably want to hear about some meeting rockers: here are some ideas for brightening up your next team meeting.