Sometimes it’s hard to convince labor-management committees they need to meet on a regular schedule, preferably no less than once a month. While this applies to other groups as well, today we want to focus on LMC’s.
If committees are to be effective, they need to meet frequently. If not, identifying problems quickly and resolving them in a timely manner is impossible.
Face it, we are all busy in our jobs. The thought of one more meeting is less than appealing. Since traditional labor-management meetings can be contentious, it is even less likely we want to get together.
Another reason we may want to avoid meetings is because so many (most?) of them are unproductive. Are you part of a group that meets regularly but has difficulty accomplishing anything meaningful? Did the agenda 9f your last meeting look almost identical to those of the preceding few meetings?
Do you spend your time covering the same ground with little or no progress? Sometimes we find ourselves in meetings that go on and on and on. There is a lot of discussion, but little of real substance happens. We spend our time thinking about all the things we could be doing if it wasn’t for the meeting we are in.
IF any of these situations sound familiar, then you have two options: continue to meet in this manner and be dissatisfied with the results or do something about it.
Each of the problems with these meetings is painfully real, but they do not have to happen. If your committee is to emerge from the doldrums of ineffectiveness, there are concrete steps you should take.
First, the group needs to establish a mission statement. These are not flowery statements with little real meaning. They should tell why your group exists, who they serve, how they operate, and how they add value to your organization. The mission statement provides direction for the committee and the meetings. It should be a clear statement that all members of the committee support, and will establish the beginnings of a foundation for your committee.
Next, your committee should establish clear operating procedures for their work. This should include ground rules that define the conduct we expect of others and will display ourselves. Another important part of the operating procedures will be the adoption and consistent use of an effective problem-solving process.
When a group discusses the same issues meeting after meeting with little progress, it is because they are not using effective problem solving. We sometimes hope we will stumble on a solution, but problem solving is too important to leave to chance.
We recommend groups use of a principled problem-solving process, such as Interest-Based Problem Solving. We have written about this in other blogs. The IBPS process allows for all members to participate, but has a clear, well-defined structure that keeps group on task towards a solution.
This is where the next step comes into play. Most groups need facilitation. Someone perceived as being neutral to the discussions who can help keep the group moving will prevent you from getting into a rut. A good facilitator will also introduce tools that help with problem identification and resolution.
Many groups believe they do not need outside help. After all, they reason, they know the problems and have a stake in solving them. While these feelings are true, they are also the reason help is necessary. It is more difficult to resolve problems that directly impact us because of the ownership we feel. This results in taking positions and using “win-lose” approaches that damage the team and their ability to problem-solve.
The use of the interest-based process helps limit this adversarial approach and focus on attacking the problem, not taking positions. By focusing on interests, we open the door to real problem solving. The committee will be able to resolve issues and get out of the rut they had been in.
Using these ideas can help make your meetings more productive. Committee members will be more willing to make time for meetings if the sessions are viewed as being productive. They may even enjoy coming to the meetings because things are being accomplished.
If your committee or group needs help in being more effective, CALMC can assist you. Contact us from our website, http://calmc.org