Team meetings can be awful. The usual egos dominating and other people remaining sagely quiet. So how can we shift to a better way?
Meetings focused on Ego
When a conversation is focused on the level of ego, people can become very anxious and defensive. The team culture can become much more scary and people clam up. That is very bad news for performance and health!
Most meetings are focused on a transactional agenda. I call this the ‘it’ of business. “Let’s just get on with ‘it’!”
It is only when the perspective shifts to the level of ‘Me’ and ‘We’ that real progress can be made.
High performing teams
High performing and thriving teams give significant time and importance to the ‘Me’ of the group; “to what extent can I be my best self here and contribute fully?”
They also look at the ‘We’ of the group process, “how can we improve the way we relate and communicate?”
Such teams know that you get significantly better ‘it’ results if you attend to the team’s culture and emotional life, their psychological safety. This truth is backed up with extensive research by academics and by Google.
In our language these teams have attained a high We-Q.
Avoiding team meetings
There is a good reason why most teams avoid such meetings though. They can be awkward, scary and time consuming. Fundamental issues of how power and influence are exercised are at the heart of the issue, as well as the impact this has.
Get it right and new insights will emerge to improve the health and effectiveness of your team. Get it wrong and things can get even worse with people feeling misunderstood, judged, and their willingness to have such conversations in future eroded.
How to have better team meetings
1. Choose a facilitator
The most effective meetings happen when someone takes responsibility for facilitating. Keeping to time, following a structure, ensuring a balance of depth and progress are all important. Facilitating is a skill for all to learn. Try rotating between members of the team and giving supportive feedback to them.
2. Agreements to enable a Deeper Conversation
Everyone is responsible for good behaviour in a healthy listening and learning culture. Common ground rules are really helpful:
Ensure that devices are put down as eye contact and attention are very important during the discussion
Vegas Rules. Unless otherwise agreed, all that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Balance air time to ensure everyone’s views/insights/feelings are fully heard
Encourage ‘outliers’, those who differ from the consensus can be courageous ‘canaries in the mine’. They can offer the most valuable insights, but can be reluctant to do so because they feel unsafe.
3. Address the ‘Me’ with a quick 'check in' round.
Let people know how you are, offer any new information about what is going on for you in and out of work which is affecting your focus and energy.
This provides a wonderful grounding and focus for the group and prepares them to go deeper.
4. Be curious rather than judgemental
Insights require listening to the views and especially the feelings of each person, not just the big beasts. Encourage good listening, challenge poor listening. This is not a battle for who is cleverest, it is an enquiry.
Choose one issue and focus on it. Come to a shared working hypothesis, a good enough group understanding. Over-analysis can be an enemy of action.
See who wants to undertake an experiment to improve things. What do they propose? Pin down what has been agreed.
7. Check out
Keep a few mins for a check out. How has this meeting been? This can be a word, a sentence or more depending on the time available.
Congratulations. You are on the path of shifting your team from Ego to We-Go. Keep it up!
If you're really serious about having awesome team meetings, then trying using the We-Q team diagnostic tool for your team meeting today!