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Participative Meetings


Effective Managers Know That Running A Good Meeting Is The Result Of What They Did Before The Meeting Started.

There are good meetings and there are bad meetings. A bad meeting is where the boss or a guest speaker does all the talking and the work group waits for the meeting to end so they can get back to work. A good meeting is one where everyone at the table is prepared for the meeting and eagerly participates.

Effective managers know that running a good meeting is not about what they do at the meeting itself, it is the result of what they did before the meeting started. Each person at the meeting should have something to report, and managers set this up by meeting with the team individually and discussing assignments.

Categorically, two things can happen if every person at the table is going to be actively involved in the meeting. A workgroup member can lead a discussion that involves the group in a decision-making process or give a report on the progress of a project that he or she worked on individually.

Managers set this up outsider of the meeting by delegating responsibilities and telling everyone to lead a discussion or have a report ready the next time the group meets. Every member of the group should at least have a progress report at every meeting.

Of course, having a productive meeting is not the main point. The productive meeting is a key indicator of a productive work group. The meeting informs and motivates individuals and drives their progress. Consider the components of the participative meeting scenario.

A workgroup member has a responsibility that requires a group discussion or a report. Who wants to show up a meeting with peers and say, “Sorry, I didn’t prepare; I have nothing to say.” Anticipation of good or bad exposure at the meeting drives people to perform.

Most successful business people are at least somewhat competitive. Not only does each member want to be prepared, each person probably wants their time on the agenda to demonstrate the importance and the quality of their effort. So, the anticipated report at the monthly meeting not only drives individuals to get work done, it drives quality as well.

This creates an important opportunity for the manager to provide positive or negative feedback. Actually, the manager doesn’t need to provide negative feedback. If someone failed to perform and has to report that to the group, the negative feedback is inherent. Positive responses like, “Can we help?” or “We look forward to hearing how this comes out next month,” only create more pressure to perform.

Positive feedback for a completed assignment can come at the end of the report with a public “thank you.” Or, for a more artful and effective way to show gratitude, the manager might express it when calling for the report. Good managers leave little to chance. They meet with their subordinates before the meeting and get an update. If the private meeting has taken place, and the manager knows what is coming, he or she can say that the subordinate worked hard, overcame some obstacle, or just that the project is extremely important for the group and thank the team member in advance of the report.

The manager should also have a report. This is an opportunity for the manager to remind everyone of his or her own contribution to the team and also to be a role model for what everyone needs to do when they lead the discussion or give their reports.

One last point about the participative meeting is that it creates momentum. A rhythm develops after a few meetings were the manager reports and turns the meeting over to each member of the group. Everyone starts to see what everyone else is contributing and is driven to keep pace. Also, positive feedback is addictive. It feels good to say, “I made this happen,” and to get approval and praise from peers.

Managers don’t make productive teams by telling their group to be productive and act like a team. They build productive teams by empowering individuals and putting them in an environment where they can be rewarded and learn to appreciate the contributions of their teammates.