A few weeks ago, we blogged about meetings and provided a suggestion for having a productive one-hour meeting. This week the blog is going to expand on that thought by giving more detail on how it can work. You may want to start your own process and follow along as we describe this effort in detail.
The suggestion from the previous blog was follow a problem solving process. It can also be a great way to do an employee engagement process. The first time the process is started it may be difficult to get people to participate simply because they’re probably somewhat skeptical as to what it’s about and where it will go.
Do not treat it as a “Flavor of the Month” type process or it will go nowhere and people’s skepticism will quickly turn into distrust for this or any future endeavors. It must be done on a consistent basis and ideas must be used to show employees this is a sincere effort to engage them.
It’s also important to choose people who have different perspectives and different personality types to get more and better ideas and to look at the particular problem from different angles which will help come up with a better solution.
The first meeting could be about laying some foundation and to bring people along and possibly reduce some of the skepticism. Until this process is really taking off, people will remain skeptical and probably even after a solution is implemented but by doing this it can help to set tone and the dynamics of the process.
Here’s a possible first agenda:
1. Describe the situation or problem and provide some information about it. This information could be data and should be in written format and handouts so those working on the problem can refer back to it if need be.
2. The purpose of bringing everybody together needs to be addressed also.
3. Expectations need to be identified. This needs to be what the group can and can’t do. This could include any financial limitations that need to be addressed.
4. If this is to be an ongoing situation, and hopefully it will be if you’re solving a problem, try and agree on a regular future meeting schedule so people will have it on their calendars and can plan for it. This could be every Tuesday or the 1st Tuesday of the month – just something that will establish a pattern. The same is true with the time of the meeting.
5. Whether it’s at this meeting or the next, it’s important for the group to establish a mission statement so everyone is clear what they will be about, what they will be doing and how other people will be impacted by their work. Answering those questions as a whole group can help a subgroup put together a draft mission statement to bring back for everyone to review at the next meeting.
6. Ground rules are also important to establish how the group will work together. A very simple process to use would be to start with silent generation for about 3-5 minutes, go from one person to the next to record the list on white board or flip chart paper. Continue until all ideas are posted. Review the list as a whole group one ground rule at a time to make sure the ground rule remains. Once that has been done, ask for a volunteer to type and send the list to all members.
If you finish with these six items, that’s excellent! It could be you may have to finish at the next meeting but what you accomplish at the first meeting is a good start. Homework can be given to group members to think of some of the issues associated with the problem being worked on and bring them to the next meeting.
Next blog, we’ll talk about the second meeting and how the homework can be achieved in your one hour time frame.