THERE ARE 5 BASIC CRITERIA FOR A GOOD MEETING:
There must be a common focus on content (agree on
WHAT you are going to do)
There must be a common focus on process (agree on
HOW to get along)
Someone is responsible to keep discussion open and moving
Someone is responsible for protecting people from personal
All people need to agree and be clear in their role and
Elect a FACILITATOR.
This is a different person then the regular manager or
chairperson your organization. You may have a different
FACILITATOR for each meeting, this way everybody who wants
to learn how can get the chance. The FACILITATORS job is
to keep the meeting on track. They are a gate-keeper;
someone who sticks to the agenda, avoids irrelevant
side-tracking, and maintains the focus on the purpose of
the meeting. The purpose of a working meeting is to
accomplish TASKS--NOT TO DO ENCOUNTER OR SENSITIVITY
CONFRONTATIONS. When all are treated with decency,
respect, and politeness, and their ideas are heard, then
the task accomplishment is effective and efficient. The
FACILITATOR is neutral and does not take sides, but keeps
the meeting going with an even hand and protects group
members and their ideas from being attacked.
Elect a RECORDER. This
person will keep notes/minutes and thereby keep a "group
memory" of the meeting. This is different from "individual
memory" in that the group is meeting TOGETHER as a TEAM to
accomplish specific tasks. The recorder helps the group
maintain its focus on its goals, and methods of getting
there. Recording what the group does, on a wall sheet(s)
allows the group members to see whether the group process
is an accurate reflection of what the group members agreed
upon to do in the agenda (THE TASKS).
In organizations where some tasks
are dictated by administration or by law, those tasks are
not negotiable. Your choice is whether you will
do them with good will or protracted complaints. Other
Tasks can be accomplished in a win/win atmosphere.
"CONSENSUS" DOESN'T MEAN COMPROMISE. When everybody has
had a chance to offer ideas and discuss them, there is the
opportunity for the group as a whole to come to agreement
about the best course for the group.
GROUP MEMBERS will
help the facilitator remain neutral. They will keep an eye
on the wall charts for accuracy of recording. They will
volunteer ideas and comments. They will listen carefully
to others. They will raise counter-points without being
negative or defensive. They will avoid routine
sub-grouping and sitting with the same people. This allows
a more creative mix at meetings.
HOW THE BOSS STAYS BOSS
You can't be neutral, so don't try. Some things you have
to do by law or administration. The group members have
rights and feelings about HOW things are run and
what they CAN and SHOULD control. Determine how much or
which decisions are the right of the group and which are
yours. Clarity helps everybody. Cooperative work takes
time. Don't plan too little time for group process.
"DO IT DAMM IT” is fast but it
always has a price to pay.