Facilitation techniques to help you manage three common dysfunctional personalities
As Sherry walked down the hall toward her office, she couldn't stop thinking about her last team meeting. Slamming the office door behind her, she let out an exasperated scream and looked for something to punch. Her team was driving her crazy. She channeled Scarlett O'Hara as she proclaimed, "I will never run a meeting like that again!" Her problem boiled down to four difficult personalities that recurred on her team. These personalities were a cancer, not just infecting the team and its results, but spreading throughout the group and infecting the other team members as well. Sherry needs an antidote, and she needs it now.
Every team relies on its members to follow up on tasks as assigned. When action items aren't resolved in a timely manner, the team ends up in a black hole of meeting déjá vu, where the same unresolved issues are repeatedly brought up, never getting a permanent resolution.
Meeting leaders struggle with team members who don't follow up on action items, thereby slowing down the progress of the team. Worse yet, this negative behavior can undermine the credibility of the meeting leader and spread throughout the rest of the team. Before this happens to you, try a few of these techniques:
- Document action items on a flipchart or whiteboard so they are visible to everyone.
- If you're conducting a virtual meeting, use a virtual whiteboard to document actions (if not available, be sure to repeat them verbally for the scribe).
- For each action item include the owner, task, and due date.
- Repeat the task-wording to the owner and ask if he/she has questions or concerns.
- If the action-item owner has concerns, elicit a volunteer to help them with the task.
- Ask the owner to suggest a due date (don't assign one).
- If concerned, follow up with the action-item owner a few days prior to the due date to check on progress.
- Suggest a ground rule that if an action-item owner can't complete an action item on time, he/she is expected to work with another team member to get it resolved by the due date.
- Establish an efficient action-item management database/system (e.g. Eroom, Sharepoint, Online group, etc.).
- If the action-item owner arrives unprepared, ask them to provide a read-out to the team (don't let them privately provide you an excuse before the meeting).
- Verbally review action-items at the end of the meeting.
- Include all action-items in the meeting notes, and ensure they are pasted into the body of the meeting-notes email.
Dana Brownlee is an acclaimed keynote speaker, corporate trainer, and team development consultant. She is president of Professionalism Matters, Inc. a boutique professional development corporate training firm based in Atlanta, GA.
Reach Dana at [email protected]. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.