Maximising the value of team and project meetings
Team and project meetings – using facilitation
Often, my first question to customers is “Are you sure you need this meeting?” Usually followed by “Are you sure you need me?”. However, depending on what kind of team and project meetings you’re having, there are good reasons to think about having an external facilitator.
How do you engage people to overcome challenges and produce truly valuable outcomes?
How do you make that time a worthwhile investment among competing priorities?
How do you do this in a collaborative and productive way?
In this post you can access our Information Sheet and get a few tips on getting value from some typical meeting situations.
Issues and Expertise
- Leadership facilitation
- Team meeting workshops
- Purpose, values and behaviours
- Strategy development
- Collaborative planning
- Collaboration for projects
- Client / contractor alignment
- Organisational capability
- Business model workshops
“We’re committed to collaboration, bringing our expertise to work alongside you and your team. You’re not overrun by consultants, capability flows into your organisation, and it keeps the investment realistic.
You may have come across facilitators who are ‘content neutral’- not us! You’ll find us passionate about your issues and outcomes with the hands-on business experience to back it up. “
• Fresh informed perspectives on your key issues.
• Value focused delivery
• Participants remain energised and focused
• Processes ensure everyone is able to contribute
• Free to concentrate on what’s important to you.
• Challenges managed safely and productively
• Progress and actions ensure commitment
• Experience to adapt to participant needs on the day
Meeting types and tips
Typical as part or all of routine team meetings and project management progress and risk management sessions. Often a standard agenda works so that ground rules and expectations are clear. The team will be clear on its purpose, individual roles and accountabilities, and be sufficiently mature to accommodate constructive challenge leading to action and commitment.
Generally, these meetings should be short and fast-moving with actions progressed outside the meeting and discussion by exception.
You might benefit from a facilitator if the process seems ineffective or participants are disengaged. Symptoms would be team meetings that overrun or where people don’t show up. Or, project meetings where progress is good on paper but feels clunky on the job. Often the problem is that purpose, roles accountabilities, behaviours, etc. have not been properly established.
Think about Board meetings or strategy and planning sessions as examples here.
These are characterised by clear accountabilities and structured meeting processes. Information is often provided ahead of the meeting in the form of reports or recommendations. However, it is vital that all available information is presented in a timely manner both to make a sound decision and for that decision to be supported. Take time to ask for factual input from every participant and pay particular attention to new or different information contributed. Meeting process or culture will determine the outcome. This may include majority voting, proposing and seconding, an executive decision.
You might benefit from a facilitator if there’s a risk that everyone’s contribution will not be heard, or the processes overtaken by poor behaviour. Decision-making meetings will often surface strong beliefs or attitudes that are sometimes exhibited as poor behaviours. These can be verbal and non-verbal both passive and aggressive. Many teams who need to make difficult decisions will benefit from being given insights into the behavioural make-up of the team and relevant communication models.
Often these are embedded in a larger meeting. Experience would suggest, however, that these creative or applied problem-solving sessions benefit from being held separately.
These are classic “How-to?” meetings. They may be highly creative and may, or may not result in an agreement to take action. Creative, does not mean lack of structure or process. In fact, there are few things more frustrating than a “free for all” problem-solving meeting.
You might benefit from a facilitator if you need help with applied problem-solving techniques, or need help with a continuous improvement process. If you’re going all-out for whacky and creative, sometimes team leaders find it uncomfortable to let their hair down. You can deflect this by letting the facilitator add the lightness.
These are can be great meetings and come in endless varieties, training & education, good practice transfer, lessons learned, and functional/technical networks.
Listening does not equal learning. Participants need to be engaged, encouraged to explore the meeting content through questions with individual and small group exercises. Information resources need to be provided and follow up scheduled to ensure that content has not just been transferred but embedded. These meetings are generally as short or as long as necessary to impart the knowledge.
You might benefit from a facilitator if you have never run a learning event and don’t have expert learning resources to call on. In many organisations, good practice transfer, or bringing together technical functional groups to share knowledge is done by technical specialists. Sometimes their enthusiasm for the subject drowns out the essence of what their audience needs to take-away.
Don’t forget to Download the Information Sheet. Please connect with Richard Vaughan on LinkedIn or call him direct on 01889 292900 to explore how to get a better return on investment from your team and project meeting.
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