I worked with an individual (let’s call them Denise) some years ago who assumed the role of authority over the other people within the team. You are right to assume that Denise was following one of the Kanban principles- Encouraging acts of leadership at all levels. However, it became a turn off with excessive meetings.
Denise might imagine. My calendar was full of meeting invitations. Meetings that I neither enjoyed nor contributed to.
It got to a point where people started missing the meetings, cancelling at the last minute. And Denise would often go after people to make sure they attend the meetings that were eventually named after Denise.
Meetings turned onto a platform to ridicule others and point fingers. I dreaded this meeting and refused to take part. And I wasn’t alone in this as others felt that too.
You don’t want to run a meeting this way. Regardless of your role or title, you want to create an environment where your team(s) can thrive, feel safe to speak without fear of retribution.
What are the signs that people are not contributing to meetings?
They stop thinking and being creative.
They name the meeting after the organiser i.e. Denise’s meeting.
Except for certain individuals, no one contributes to the discussion.
Steps to take:
Have “thinking partners” in your meeting. Nancy Kline beautifully describes how to host a meeting co-created with your team.
Give everyone a turn- Be clear that no one speaks again until everyone has had a turn.
Begin with a positive reality- People share something positive about the work or life, i.e. what success have you had since we last met? What’s going on well in your work or life?
Let them finish- Everyone agrees not to interrupt, let each other finish. When people expect interruption, they rush and grasp for edges of ideas.
Identify assumptions and ask incisive questions– One of the limiting biases people go into a meeting with is that their ideas don’t matter and they can’t add value to the meeting. Another is thinking and voicing their thoughts might mean displeasing the leader and jeopardising their job. You need to address these limiting beliefs. You should always prompt at the beginning of your meeting:
What might we be assuming that could limit our thinking here?
Divide into thinking pairs- Divide the group into pairs and give each person 5 minutes to think uninterrupted for themselves with the partner’s undivided, respectful attention.
Go round again- after pairing up, give everyone a turn to speak again without interruption. This can bring up new ideas and is impactful.
Give permission, to tell the truth- when you create an environment with psychological safety in mind, people will share their thoughts, which is often the truth.
Allow people’s feelings- some people raise an eyebrow about ‘touchy-feeling’. You often hear ‘we don’t want any touchy feelings, do we? However, by not bringing your emotions to work, you are not showing your authentic self. Ask people how they are feeling, do a quick check-in. A powerful question could be, ‘What is showing up for you at this moment?’ Where is this feeling in your body?’
End with a positive note -Appreciate both the meeting and each other.
You should edge towards creating a thinking culture and environment for yourself, teams and organisation. It might feel strange initially, however, it enables exponential and creative collaboration with time.
Have you introduced something similar to your teams or organisation? Share your experience with me. I love to read them.