10 tips on how to not hate team meetings - Part 2
Meetings. Not the reason you got into children’s and youth ministry, right? And yet if you’re like me you find yourself in more meetings than you could have ever anticipated. In this article, Tim Alford continues to share his 10 tips for better meetings.
[Read part 1 in this series here]
You know if you consider this a good or a bad thing by the feeling you get in your gut when you see that meeting coming up in your diary. For some, it’s a feeling of dread. We roll our eyes in frustration at the thought of having to endure another hour of what will inevitably be a worthless waste of time.
For others of us though, it’s a feeling of anticipation. We can’t wait to gather with our friends, engage in the issues that matter, dream big dreams, pray big prayers, and make big decisions that will impact countless lives.
What you feel about those meetings depends almost entirely upon how they are led. That’s why last month we began exploring ten tips for leading meetings that matter. We decided to prepare adequately, to land each discussion in action or alignment, to require everyone to take note of their own actions and recall them at the end of the meeting, to band phones(!), and crucially, keep to time. It’s a good start, but it’s not all you need…
6. ENCOURAGE CONFLICT
Wait, what? Encourage conflict? You mean discourage conflict, right? Wrong. One of the most important roles for the chair of a meeting is to ensure that everyone says it exactly as they see it, especially when they see it differently to the people who have already spoken. This kind of robust dialogue ensures that an issue is properly tested before it is given any airtime outside of the room, and stops the “meeting after the meeting” when team members complain to each other about what was decided in the meeting!
You need to learn to be comfortable with people disagreeing because if your team are passionate they should have an opinion. As long as passionate disagreement takes place around an issue, not an individual, then this kind of conflict should be encouraged. So make sure your team know that in your meetings it’s OK to disagree with each other and with you, but it’s not OK to think something that you’re not saying.
7. DON’T REQUIRE CONSENSUS
One of the things that encouraging healthy conflict does is eradicate the need for consensus in the room to move forward. To paraphrase Patrick Lencioni, most reasonable people don’t need to get their own way all the time, they just need to know they’ve been heard. If you require a total consensus before moving forward, progress will be painfully slow and many great ideas will be shut down because of a couple of contrary voices.
To ensure that you listen to your team, allow yourself to be persuaded by their arguments, take the temperature in the room, and then make a decision - even if not everyone likes it. As long as they have been authentically listened to, they should be able to get on board and back the decision.
8. DEFINED PURPOSE
It is very difficult for the human brain to switch between detail and creativity. So wherever possible try to keep creative meetings, financial meetings, reflective meetings and strategic meetings separate from each other, or at the very least, take a decent break - and even go to a different room - before switching gear.
9. THINK ENVIRONMENT
Is the environment conducive to the discussion? If the meeting is creative in nature, then sitting around a table with laptops in front of you is not likely to bring the best out of your team. If it is financial, then sitting around on armchairs with nowhere to place your budget papers is not particularly helpful either! So choose an environment that helps to focus and bring the best out of the team according to the core purpose of that meeting.
10. GOOD TANGENT / BAD TANGENT?
This is a tricky one. Tangents can make meetings frustrating and fruitless, where you bound from one idea to the next according to whatever pops up in people’s minds. This kind of meeting results in a lot of talking and very little progress. Yet in my context at Limitless, some of the best ideas we’ve ever had came out of tangents!
So it is the role of the leader to discern two things: Is this tangent helpful or not? And if yes, is this for now or is this for later? You can then steer the direction of the meeting accordingly. So don’t be afraid and jump in by saying, “that’s some good stuff, but today we need to come to a decision on this issue, so I’ve made a note of that and we’ll return to it next time,” for example.
Love them or loathe them meetings are an inseparable part of your ministry journey. Done right they can be the chrysalis where your best, most creative, God-given ideas are born, shaped and nurtured. They can be the place where friendships grow deeper and camaraderie is fostered. A well-led meeting could just be the place where the next big idea is born; where God breathes new life and fresh vision for you and your team. Lead them well.
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