Meetings…meetings…meetings! Part 2

In the last article I talked about the need for an agenda. This article will focus on the process and format of meetings. Part III, in the next article, will cover the aspects of leadership and member roles. The process or 'how' the meeting will run will prove to be just as important as having a well put together agenda. We all know the feeling of sitting at a lengthy meeting where the same people talk and the same ones sit silently with apparently nothing to add. The key points I want to cover in this article include:

  1. Discussion process
  2. Decision making/problem-solving
  3. Conflict management.

Discussion process/format

First, there should be an agreed upon set of rules as to the format of the meeting. Is this a casual, informal, formal or procedural type of meeting? The type of meeting will help determine the appropriate process or format to use. A reminder here is needed. Whenever new members are added to a group, it is important to 'enculturate' them into the 'rules' of the meeting. It is embarrassing to make a mistake or to risk 'looking bad' when one is a new member.

It is up to the facilitator to make sure that the format has been agreed upon and takes primary responsibility for compliance. For example, if it has been determined that all issues will be voted on by all members present then a system must be used to make that happen. If decisions are made by consensus or discussion then it is often acceptable that any one who disagrees will speak up.

Certain guidelines for format need to be considered. This is not a complete list, merely one to give you a few suggestions.

  1. Time meeting begins and ends
  2. Adherence to timeframes
  3. Expectations for membership coming prepared for discussion or decision making--- accountability to the task and the group.
  4. Discussion format-casual or formal with everyone giving their opinion
  5. Voting and/or decision making
  6. How do decisions get made when certain members are not present
  7. Minute taking--- how they are taken, disseminated and used.
  8. Establishing deadlines for completion of tasks and evaluating the need to follow-up at certain intervals.
  9. Evaluating the group in terms of meeting goals, accomplishing tasks and general satisfaction of the membership.

Decision-making and Problem-solving

Decision-making and problem-solving should be a deliberate process for the group. If it is not, the group risks not making decisions at all or making inappropriate ones. There are many decision-making processes available. The one described here is a combination and reasonably simple.

  • Step One: Define the problem or the task at hand. Although this sounds very easy, it is often the downfall of the solution. Did we define the task or problem correctly? Are we solving the right problem?
  • Step Two: Assess the causes or the reasons for what may or may not be the problem. Try to be thorough here and examine as many as possible.
  • Step Three: Consider the possible solutions and then evaluate the solutions for feasibility/viability, etc.
  • Step Four: Implement a chosen strategy/solution(s)
  • Step Five: Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution and return to Step One if needed. This can be your most important step and one that is often over-looked. This will help determine if you defined the problem correctly in the first place. Also, it may be that some alterations are necessary, not necessarily starting over.

Define, Assess, Implement and Evaluate…the key critical components to problem-solving.

Conflict Management

I have given suggestions before on types of conflict management. This time, let's examine the types of conflict that may present themselves. There are three basic types and you can find out by asking yourself these three simple questions.

  1. Do we really disagree about this and if so, what/where/how do we disagree? This referred to as 'simple conflict'.
  2. Are our egos getting in the way of resolving this? We really don't disagree, we just cannot stand to be wrong--- 'ego conflict'.
  3. Do we only appear to disagree because we aren't communicating very well? This is referred to as 'pseudo-conflict'.

Once you have identified the basis for the conflict, the means in which to manage it becomes more obvious. There is little reason to 'flog a dead horse' shall we say if we are operating from the wrong perspective.

Next article, leadership and membership roles will be addressed. What is every person of the group responsible for as a member?

 Please use this information as it is intended but if you copy, copy in its entirety with appropriate copyright information. All articles are copyrighted and owned by Lisa Pervin, PhD, RN, CRRN & Best Business Practices Consulting, Inc. 2015.