Great meetings include some repetitive characteristics. A high level of participation frequently indicates the opportunity for a great meeting. What encourages participation?
We share select characteristics with you through the sequence they would occur in a well-conducted meeting; namely the beginning, the middle, and the end (ie, The Wrap). The following is not meant to be exhaustive, as substantial detail is also found in other blogs. However, we find the following to rank among the most important items for inciting high levels of meeting participation, collaboration, and today’s focus—ownership.
Ending (aka Review and Wrap) Agenda Step
While meeting participation concludes with the wrap-up or close of each meeting, participation and ownership need to extend back to the project or the other reasons for holding the meeting in the first place. For example, the term ‘plan’ can minimally be defined with four words—who does what, when. Ownership of results is clearly important to truly call a meeting, successful.
As session leader (ie, frequently referred to as facilitator), conduct a thorough review of the agreed upon outputs. Do not relive the meeting nor provide a transcription. Simply focus on the final items of agreement, and not necessarily the rationale behind them. Ensure that all can support them be enforcing that this is their last chance to speak up, they need to now agree to support the outputs, even if not their favorite, in the hallways and meeting rooms when they leave. As professionals, you have every reason to expect them to either walk the talk or speak up. It’s not your responsibility to reach down their throat and pull it out of them. Ensure that they will both support the output, and not lose any sleep over it.
Based on the expectations and culture of the participants, modify your roles and responsibilities tool to ensure accountability, responsibility, and support for action items that need to be assigned. Demand that one and only one role accept responsibility since you do not want to allow for the pointing of fingers at the ‘other person.’ If you have followed the suggestions of the first two blogs in this series, assignments comes as no surprise and your participants have already considered whom they feel would be optimal for each of the action items. If necessary, remind them of the holarchial value of their assignments and how completion of the action items will impact their quality of life, income, workload, etc. If no one steps up, assign it as on ‘open issue’ and escalate it back to the executive sponsor or his or her equivalent.
Relevant items captured, typically beyond stop of the meeting, may also be assigned. North Americans frequently refer to this category as the ‘Parking Lot.’ We prefer the term ‘Refrigerator’ to connote a sense of value, something that can be cooked up into a new meal, rather than a place where stuff goes to rust. While covered in created detail in BLOG, do NOT ask, “Who will be responsible for this (ie, open item)?” Rather, ask “Who will take the point of communications and report back to this group on the status of this (ie, open item)?” Again, if no one steps up, assign it as on ‘open issue’ and escalate it back to the executive sponsor or their equivalent.
Ensure that your participants now sensibly and similarly communicate with others the results of the meeting. Make sure it sounds like they were in the same meeting together. Build consensus around “If you encounter your superior at lunch, and they ask you for an update, what will you tell them we accomplished in this meeting?” Secondarily consider other stakeholders that may be affected by the meeting outputs, “If you encounter a stakeholder in the hallway, and they ask you for an update, what will you tell them we accomplished in this meeting?” Do not underestimate the value of this activity. Groups that claim to have consensus may discover based on their interpretation that significant difference remain. The best time to resolve these differences is right now, before the meeting adjourns.
Ask them how you did and obtain their ownership over the fact that their input can help make you a better session leader. To allow for anonymity, ask them to jot down on separate Post-it Notes, at least one aspect they liked and one aspect they would have changed for the meeting. Have them mount their notes in a Plus/ Delta format as they exit the meeting, either using easel(s) or white board to label your titles.
Encouraging meeting participation begins long before the meeting begins, and it extends beyond the meeting closure if you are concerned about culture, change management, or participation in your next meeting. Their is no ‘silver bullet’ if you show up ill-prepared. Consider the suggestions made over the past three blogs to help you secure higher levels of meeting participation. We see these suggestions work and so will you.
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.
Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.
- How to Facilitate Virtual Meetings: Teleconference and VideoPresence (Part 3 of 3 – Conclusion) (mgrush.com/blog)
- How to Facilitate Virtual Meetings: Teleconference and VideoPresence (Part 2 of 3 – During/ Real Time) (mgrush.com/blog)
- How to Facilitate a Consensual Sphere of Concern, Influence, and Control Using the Bookend Method (mgrush.com/blog)
- The Role of Session Leader (mgrush.com/blog)
- The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst (project-pro.us)
- How to Facilitate Requirements Gathering (mgrush.com/blog)
- Five Ways to Facilitate Quiet People and Get Them to Participate More Fully (mgrush.com/blog)
- How to Get a Promising Meeting to Fail (mgrush.com/blog)
- How To Actively Listen (mgrush.com/blog)
- Strategic Initiatives | Executive Sponsor Roles, Power, & Politics (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)