I was recently consulting in a company that seemed to work on wishes. They wished they knew what people were thinking. They wished they could do something about lack of trust. They wished folks would come forward with their issues rather than chatting in halls. They wished they were “all on the same page”. Why wish? Meet!
Three things are impossible: to know what’s needed unless you ask, to know what another is thinking unless you talk, and, to move an organization forward without trust. They become possible when you meet.
Why do we shy away from meeting? There are many reasons. You may not feel comfortable speaking up in a group. You may feel that there are dominant folks in your group and you’ll never get a word in anyway. You may think it is a waste of time when everyone could be at their terminals ‘getting things done’. You may not know how to run a good meeting. You may have been coerced to attend non-productive, boring meetings and never want to go through that again. Whatever your reason, think it through again.
“There is no such thing as an organization! There is only a group of people joining together around a common purpose to produce sustainable benefits and profitability for all concerned.” You may have read my quote before on the home page of my website. I believe it’s true. The operant words in that quote are ‘joining together’. The most effective way to join together is to talk together. That is what a meeting is.
Recently I met with a newly established management team. They had an agenda filled with employee concerns they had recorded as the result of a new reporting line process. I asked them this question: How will you communicate the results of this meeting to your staff? One person said that the staff would be informed on an as-needed basis. Another said that a meeting would be called if they felt they had something important to communicate. My next question: How will you build trust with these folks? Oh, then there was silence.
We talked about the trust issue. Staff needed to know that their concerns had been addressed. They needed to know what progress or decisions had been made on the issue. They needed to be able to trust the management team. Oh, there IS a reason for having a staff meeting following each management team meeting.
One of the problems with our technologically oriented workplace is that computers are great for hiding behind. Have you noticed that?
Another issue in the workplace is that many positions call for a high level of technological competency and folks are promoted to supervisory or management positions on this basis. Uh-oh, where are their people skills? This is a very important consideration, isn’t it? People lacking people skills often dislike meetings. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Why meet? Because it is the only effective way to make informed decisions. Different people see different sides of issues. Different people have different priorities. Different people process information differently. Only a meeting can create a true forum for maximizing potential. Sure, it’s more complex. Sure, it’s an invitation for conflict. Sure, it’s time-consuming. Is it more complex, conflicting and time-consuming than having multitudinous side conversations in hallways and lunch rooms with wide gaps between management and staff? Absolutely not!
Why meet? Because it is cost, time and energy efficient! Oh, yes, it does require good meeting skills for this to be the case! Fortunately, these can be learned.
(c) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, San Diego, CA.. All rights reserved worldwide.
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