More Meeting Madness

This article in the CIPD’s People Management magazine has some useful tips for effective meeting behaviour, including the advice to have a clear plan of what you hope to achieve in a meeting.  I once worked in an organisation where, every time there was a problem, they would call a meeting.  People would turn up, unbriefed and ill-prepared, with their own departmental perspectives and agendas and without really understanding the purpose of the meeting or why they were there.

Typically, the meeting would take place with

  • No overall purpose or vision of what they were trying to achieve
  • Little analysis of the problem
  • Superficial exploration of options and potential solutions
  • Unclear process for making decisions

Inevitably, the meetings degenerated into conflict or apathy – “someone else’s problem”.

A more effective way to get positive results for all would have been to give someone the responsibility, before the meeting, for gathering information and input, analysing the problem and coming up with some options to deal with it.  Participants would be briefed prior to the meeting and attend with a more constructive mindset and hopefully a desire to reach a decision.

This could be the perfect role for someone with the Synthesiser style as it plays to their potential talents for defining, clarifying, integrating and supporting.  They often work behind the scenes, consulting people and pulling information together and it comes naturally to them to ask questions and listen. They tend to prefer written communication.  So investigating a problem and writing a report on it can draw on their natural talents.

Use the style that fits the situation.

But remember that we can choose to use the behaviours of different styles, irrespective of our natural style.  Even if you don’t have the synthesiser style naturally, you can adopt synthesiser behaviours where they are most effective for the situation.  If you are given a task like this, you can approach it in the synthesiser style, using the synthesiser behaviours of listening, asking questions, consulting and integrating information.

For more on what drives and stresses people with the four styles in meetings, see Making Meetings Work for All.