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Your Meetings Suck: How to Facilitate Influential, Productive Meetings

Replace stale, monotonous meetings with ones that generate the engagement, buy-in, alignment and accountability you need to achieve greater results.
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There’s a difference between facilitating a conversation and managing a meeting from a soapbox. For managers, the consequences of preaching are severe—doing so means they’re the only one participating in the meeting.

Here’s how to replace stale, monotonous meetings with ones that generate the engagement, buy-in, alignment and accountability you need to achieve greater results.

Lose the mundane meeting. Most managers are regularly in front of their teams, conducting meeting after meeting. Regardless of the topic, the typical modus operandi is to lead the meeting with their own agenda, share the context, and then present what needs to be done, by whom, and when the particular goal, objective or change needs to be completed.

At the end of the meeting, the manager expects the team to understand, agree and just “get it done.” Managers often end the meeting with: “Does anyone have any questions?” And what typically ensues is silence. The manager concludes the meeting, assuming the objective was clear and the team knows what to do.

Then comes the shock to the system: Tasks are either not completed as effectively as they need to be, or they’re simply not done at all.

The manager assesses the team’s results and thinks, “What is wrong with these people? I was pretty clear about what needed to be done. Why didn’t they just do it?”

Get off your soapbox. The problem here is that most managers don’t know how to facilitate more than they pontificate. When a manager gets in front of their team during a meeting and does most of the talking, they’re engaging in what I refer to as “soapbox management.”

In order to produce breakthrough results during every meeting, the manager cannot simply preach to their people. When managers point fingers and tell people what to do, how to do it or what they’re doing wrong, most employees put up their defenses. Consequently, they stop listening—and their level of engagement diminishes.

The solution? Get off your soapbox and start leading with questions in order to focus on other people’s opinions and what’s important to them.

Reset staff expectations. In order to create a culture of collaboration rather than a culture of control and competition, here is an example of a bulletproof facilitation strategy.

First, call a meeting with your staff. This should be an enrollment conversation that resets expectations, creates alignment and buy-in, and demonstrates the value your team will realize from your newly structured meetings.

Consider using and refining the following template to fit your style of communication:

“What I want for each person on the team is to feel that every time we get together, we leave feeling inspired—that each of us made a contribution, and that we’ve created an authentic culture of support and collaboration that results in highly productive meetings.

In order to achieve this, I’m taking full responsibility for how I will go about facilitating these meetings moving forward. After reflecting back on our prior meetings, I realize that I could have done a better job in many ways. I want to apologize to each of you if you feel I was directive rather than trying to gain your buy-in and leverage your strengths and opinions, or if I’ve ever offended you in any way.

The fact is, I’ve done you a disservice, because I truly value you and your opinion, experience and expertise. I know each of us has opinions on how to achieve our goals or resolve certain challenges and you’re the expert in your position. Since I don’t always have the answers, I want to start leveraging your talents more frequently during every meeting. Just like in sports, it takes a team to win the game.

I know in many ways, I need to earn your trust back. I realize this is going to involve a bit of change for all of us, and chances are I’m not going to get it right the first few times, which is why I’ll be asking for your feedback on how I can improve as a facilitator. However, I’m committed to making this a healthy, enjoyable, collaborative and positive environment, even when we have to discuss things that may be perceived as difficult. But in order to do that, I’ll need your commitment to this new way of doing things as well.

So, are you all willing to create a new atmosphere which will allow us all to open up, create a trusting environment by respecting each other’s point of view, and share best practices with the goal of becoming more successful at our jobs?”

Once you reset expectations, take ownership of the past and the new process moving forward, and, most important, share the benefit each person will realize from this change, you’ll need to ask the right questions.

Keep an eye on and the News & Views e-newsletter in the coming months for a list of questions that can help facilitate your next meeting.

Keith Rosen, CEO of Coachquest, has written several best-sellers, including “Own Your Day“ and “Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions,” winner of five International Best Book awards and the No. 1 best-selling sales management coaching book on Amazon.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Recruiting, Hiring & Training