Three main problems of traditional meetings
Imagine an ordinary planning meeting or flying. In the vast majority of teams, it looks like this:
- The leader delivers introductory notes, outlines the situation and waits for questions;
- One or two people carefully express clear and obvious things to everyone. Perhaps those that have already been discussed outside of the meeting;
- Another person – an enthusiast, usually one of the key specialists or management – supplements the discussion with something new, receiving the answer: “We will think about it”;
- The rest of the people are just sitting. At best, they answer questions addressed directly to them and relating to their immediate area of responsibility. At worst, the person does not participate in the meeting at all and waits until it is over.
There is simply no real involvement of employees in the meeting, there is no brainstorm. Implementing agile methodologies like Scrum sometimes fixes the situation, but in many cases it turns out to be just a change of form, and the effectiveness of meetings remains at a dramatically low level.
Why is this happening
All these problems are based on three factors:
- Dominant role of leader. In the directive management system familiar to Russian business, it often happens that it is more expensive to argue with a top manager. This literally kills the very concept of meetings with the participation of the boss: employees simply do not risk objecting to management, fearing pressure from above or some kind of sanctions;
- Lack of listening skills. When representatives of different departments or specialists from different areas participate in the meeting – and in the case of important issues this happens all the time – each of them assesses the situation from his own side. At the same time, many do not want or do not know how to hear the opinion of colleagues, which makes the meeting unproductive;
- Elemental organization. The meeting does not have clear objectives. There is no list of issues to discuss, no prescribed time to work on each of them. As a result, we sit for two hours and do not move anywhere.
Everyone knows about these factors, almost everyone is aware of their negative impact – it is all the more surprising that very few managers pay at least some attention to correcting the situation. Meanwhile, it is quite simple to resolve all the listed difficulties: use facilitation.
What is facilitation and how does it work
Facilitation is a method of conducting meetings to maximize their effectiveness. The bottom line is to remove barriers to the exchange of ideas and involve absolutely every employee in the discussion. This is achieved by introducing the role of a facilitator – the organizer of meetings, who solves the following tasks:
- Forms a transparent information space: formulates the purpose of the meeting, conveys it to each participant, makes sure that there are no objections to achieving this goal. As a result, everyone clearly understands why they have gathered;
- Ensures that each participant is included in the workflow. To do this, the facilitator develops a meeting plan and rules for interaction: when, who and how participates, speaks, writes, etc.;
- Guarantees that no opinion is lost: creates a single workspace in which all key issues, proposals on them, decisions, etc. will be recorded. These records will then become the protocol of work;
- Maintains an optimal pace of discussion, avoiding both stress and boredom. For this, various tools are used, for example, a visible timer: it shows how much time is left for the discussion of a particular issue, motivates participants to get involved in the process more actively;
- Maintains a neutral stance towards each member and the group as a whole. He does not command, does not impose his opinion – he simply moderates the process so that everyone can work productively.
Thus, the facilitator creates the necessary conditions for team interaction, eliminating the problems listed earlier. At the same time, unlike Scrum and other agile methodologies, facilitation does not require a complete restructuring of the company’s business processes, you do not need to spend months on it: you can change everything right here and now. This versatility makes the method a great choice if you’re not sure where to start.