So far, we’ve looked at one-to-ones and feedback that uses a coach-approach. Let’s move on to team meetings.
As always, contracting is really important, to ensure that everyone know what they are there for. What’s the purpose of the meeting, what are the desired outcomes and what will success look like by the end of the meeting? As the convener of the meeting, you can be directive about these:
- We’re here to discuss x
- We have 30 minutes
- The outcome I’d like us to reach within this meeting is y
- We’ll know we have achieved that when z
- I suggest we do A, B and C to get us there
- The final decision will be [a consensus, a vote, my decision]
- Let’s start with….
[STOKeRS credit: 3d Coaching].
You may need to come back to this to remind people if they stray off topic, and you may want to have it written on a flip-chart to keep everyone focused.
A Facilititative Approach to Team Meetings
But this is where you move out of directive and into coach-like, facilitative, asking questions rather than giving solutions. You want to encourage open debate, and that might mean conflict. Conflict is a good thing when it comes to making the best decisions. We need to hear all sides of an argument before we commit to a way forward. Your goal is to get multiple possibilities out on the table, just as you would in one-to-one coaching.
But just as in one-to-one coaching, don’t move to action too early. It’s important to explore the root causes of a problem, or what’s underneath the surface. Your goal is to create awareness of the situation and the ramifications.
Be sure to ask the quieter members of the team for their contribution. That might mean giving them a bit of time to think about it, if they are more reflective. You could ask everyone to write down their thoughts before they come to the meeting, or at the beginning of the meeting, before you dig in. That way, they will have a chance to reflect and be more confident in contributing something.
Equally, you may need to ask the vocal team members to allow others to voice their thoughts. This is really important for everyone to feel heard and valued; and for the team to be able to deliver the best quality decision. This is an example of direct communication.
Toward the end of a meeting, the leader should write down in a place that is visible to everyone the answer to the question: “What have we agreed upon today?” Team members then provide their individual responses about whether this is their understanding of what has been agreed. If there is no consensus, the leader then provokes further discussion to eliminate any discrepancies and clarify commitment and agreements. The leader then records all commitments in writing where everyone can see them, and has all team members record them as well (credit to Patrick Lencioni). In essence, this is about Planning and Goal-setting. The next time you convene, you can check in and manage progress and accountability.
I suggest that at the end of every meeting you also reflect together about what worked well and what could be improved for the next meeting. This way, you can learn together what makes a great meeting for your time.
What are your best experiences of meetings where you felt able to contribute and fully explore the contributions of others? What did the team lead or chairperson do that created an environment where this was possible? I bet that trust and intimacy was a part of the mix, as well as the location.
If I were to draw this, it might look something like this (an adaptation of Peter Hawkin’s CLEAR model, with some coaching competencies thrown in)
What would you add to the model?
You might like to look back over some of the other blog posts in this series ‘When to use a Coach Approach’