Mastering the mystery of meetings

A defining characteristic of a high performing team is how its members behave before, during and after meetings.

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During the meeting

High performing teams are characterised by the following norms of communications conduct.

Be present

High performing team members are fully conscious, emotionally and intellectually present. They are fully engaged at every point throughout the meeting.  They listen respectfully. They aren’t checking their Blackberries, staring out of the window or preparing what they are going to say next. They listen for meaning and build on ideas that are already in play. When everyone is fully present in a conversation there is a real dialogue. When people aren’t fully present, the conversation becomes an exercise in transactional ping pong and meaningless point scoring.

Be intentional

Top team members are clear about what they want to say before they speak.  Every spoken contribution is deliberate and has conscious intent.  They are conscious of ‘how’ they make a contribution and why they do so. This builds respect and earns trust in their contribution.

Be frank

Top team members say exactly what they mean and mean exactly what they say. While this direct approach of saying exactly what is meant may sometimes startle, surprise, or discomfort others, people prefer to know clearly what is meant rather than having to interpret, often incorrectly. Directness doesn’t need to be insulting or blunt and if done respectfully can build a foundation of trust, which can transform a crucial conversation and move things forward in a positive way.

Be succinct

Top team members respect their colleagues’ time and intellectual capacity to grasp a point that is made clearly and succinctly.  There is no place in top team meetings for long-winded digressions. Every team member accepts personal responsibility to keep things moving forward and staying on point. Keep it short, make one point at a time and don’t repeat the point with different variations. If unsure that a point has been understood, ask for feedback.

Be courteous

Courtesy is a critical factor in a high performing team.   Brain science shows that positive or negative, the way in which a message is spoken determines its effectiveness. In one study, when people received feedback that was delivered in a negative, critical tone of voice, they came out of the session feeling down - despite the good news. Yet, when negative feedback came in a warm, positive tone of voice, they felt upbeat and energised. Say it respectfully. Say it softly.  You don’t have to shout to be heard.

Be curious

Top teams assume positive intentions and intelligence in their colleagues. They express curiosity instead of being judgmental. They will ask questions and explore. High performing teams have refined the art of developing collaborative action, based on collective wisdom.

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