Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

Archive for the ‘Committee meetings’ Category

Dealing With Difficult People – Why Do They Act Like That?

DifficultPeopleYou have seen them. They are the people that always have a different opinion. They know the ONLY way to do something. They don’t want to even consider another way. We have all worked with them. Everyone wants to know how do we deal with that type of person?

Before you can deal with that type of person, you need to look at why do they take that hard stance? What is it that makes them feel that they are right?
Generally, people take a difficult stance for one or more of the following reasons:

1. They experienced a similar situation before that was not successful and are convinced this will not be successful either so why are you wasting my time.
2. They don’t have enough “context” information to see the big picture. Their scope of knowledge is only a portion of the entire problem, situation or project.
3. They may have some personal issues that they are dealing with that prevent them from fully participating.
4. They are afraid that they will appear weak among their peers and reports. They have a need to always be right.
5. They are afraid of failure. If you don’t do it my way it won’t work and then I will be responsible anyway.

These are just a few of the real reasons that people behave in a difficult manner. I believe there are underlying issues for most people when they behave in this way. Your meetings need to be structured to mitigate these behaviors. You may not be able to prevent them all but you can certainly start to establish a process to reduce them. Here are just a few suggestions.

1. Be sure that the people you have in the meeting are there for a reason. Don’t invite everyone. Invite only those that need to participate. If you have a group of people that simply need to be “in the know” send them a memo. Otherwise, you will be wasting time.
2. Let the group share what they feel the desired outcome of the meeting should be. What would they consider “success” of the meeting. Each person may have a totally different idea of why they are even at the meeting.
3. When you see bad behavior do something. Move around the room, go stand by the person who is having the side conversation. They will stop.
4. Be sure you have enough small group discussions built into the meeting so that they have a chance to share information with their neighbors.
5. Have a defined, interesting and engaging agenda and discussion. If the participants at the meeting are able to check their email while in the meeting, you have room to improve your meeting and agenda planning. Participants should not be interested in checking their email ( unless they are on call or in need) and should be drawn to the meeting. They should know that they are a part of the meeting and their voices and input is important.

One of skills that is growing in demand is “facilitation” skills. To be adapt at designing and facilitating meetings takes training and research. ICA-USA and ICA-Associates, Canada have spent decades developing facilitation training based on successful implementation of those methods. Consider taking one of the two upcoming classes offered by ICA-USA and ICA-Canada. ICA-USA ToP TM Facilitation Methods will show you two methods (Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop) and one process ( Action Planning). The ICA-Canada class will show you how to determine the “right” people to have in the room, develop agendas, room set up, flip chart tips , 72 activities to use in your meetings and how to deal with difficult people.

Here are the links to the 2 Florida classes. Each of them are a 2 day workshop.

* Top Facilitation Methods – ICA – USA, http://bit.ly/1Udds20
* Making Meetings Work – ICA – Associates http://bit.ly/2aCt5iL

Are you really neutral?

As the CEO of your organization, is it possible to lead your own organization’sI-BadMeeting strategic meeting and remain neutral? Do your biases show through even in the most subtle ways?

In order to save on consulting fees, many organizations rely on employees to facilitate important direction setting meetings. Think about the last time that you facilitated a meeting for your own organization. Where you as excited about putting forth that idea that you know was going to cause increased workloads for staff?

A strategic planning session should not be taken lightly. The investment in the planning, pre-work and selection of an independent, neutral facilitator will pay dividends for years and will help to set the course of the future of the organization.

Toastmasters and facilitation?

If you have never been to a Toastmasters meeting, I encourage you to find the nearest one. As a facilitator, you need to be able to communicate in a fashion that people enjoy listening to and are clearly understood. In addition to improving your own speaking and listening skills, you will find many great gems in the talks that you will hear others present. Here is one that struck home with me recently.

Facilitating and Improv
What do they have to do with each other? Isn’t improv really just “stand up comedy?” That is what I thought too until I heard the recent talk on Improv and meetings. When you engage in improv you respond ‘unscripted” to whatever situation you find yourself in. It is “being in the moment” with a clear mind and able to respond to “the moment”. The presenter at this meeting offered the following tips.

BE NOW – Be present in the moment. Don’t be thinking about what happened yesterday or what you are going to say as a response to the person talking. Listen.
SAY YES – Be open to new ideas. Don’t ever say, we tried that and it didn’t work.
SAY YES AND ! – Not only say yes, but contribute to the new idea and add to what was previous said.
NO – Throw away your fears. Don’t worry about failure.
NO – Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Trust your meeting partners.
BE ONE – Be one with the group. Stay with them and the thoughts that are being shared. Listen and respond to what is going on that moment.

I really wish I could have recorded this person’s talk as she was incredible at delivering it and I was hanging on every word. I was with her at every moment.

Only one technology at a time?

Are we are getting in a rut already? So many meetings are on either gotomeeting, conference call, skype or other collaboration tool. But, have you ever had a meeting that engaged two or more tools at the same time? Each of them are good for a specific purpose. Why limit yourself to one at a time. Should you have an online meeting via gotowebinar and then break into tweet chats? Or meet via conference call and then offline in a group forum to followup the discussion. Or even possibly do a tweet chat during an in-person meeting?

We look at meetings as one dimensional and seem to do sometimes what is easiest for the facilitator and not necessarily the best choice for the group. We need to consider the desired outcome and design the process to achieve it.

Focused Conversation – Gathering Input for Event Planning

Objective –  This group wanted to come together to brainstorm on how to improve their tradeshows at their respective associations.   The sizes of the associations and events ranged greatly from very small of 50 booths to large of 400 booths.   The challenge was to come up with useful information that the group felt a part of creating.  We had one hour to brainstorm, categorize, and summarize our thoughts.   There were approximately 25 participants in this meeting.

Setting the stage we shared stories of what experiences we have had of a successful trade show events.  These can be ones that we were responsible for producing or ones that we attended.  The participants shared ideas of what they had remembered from a good experience.

Next we talked about how it felt to be a part of that experience from a participants point of view as well as from the organizers’ point of view.   Participants talked about the feeling that they had when it went well and the feedback from others when it goes well.   The group discussed what surprised them about this part of their event.

Taking these positive events, we shared stories about what these types of events did for the organizations.  Did it bring people closer together, create a sense of “family” or what was the result of these activities.    In addition we discussed what would have they done differently knowing what they now know.

After setting the tone, and getting everyone to feel comfortable in sharing, each person was instructed to write out 4  – 5 ideas on large 5″ x 9″ cards,  that they thought would contribute to a successful tradeshow.   The group was directed to express their ideas in 3-5 words.

After 5 minutes we formed groups of 3 – 4 people.  Each group had to negotiate and select the top 3 ideas and pass them forward to the facilitator.  We discussed each idea very briefly before placing them on the sticky wall.   When the top 3 ideas from each group were on the wall, we asked for one representative from each team to come up and to sort them into similar groups.     They were able to move any of the cards around at any time.   After grouping the ideas, we asked for their next best 2-3 cards per group and as we talked about them, we placed them with their groups.  The participants agreed on the placement and clarity of the ideas.

After asking if there were any unique ideas not represented on the board,  we named the groups of ideas.  Categories were assigned such as communication, layout, activities, and fun.   it was apparent that the “fun” category had the most items under it.

We again reviewed the ideas represented and asked for any thing that may be missing.   A few more ideas were contributed and the cards were placed with the appropriate groups.   Lastly the group reflected on if they had any ideas of things that they would like to try out right away at their event.  We discussed what the best use of this information is and what we should do next with it.  The group decided we wanted to capture these items in a shared website and refine them annually for future use. They want to take 2-3 items and make them into more detail as in a “how-to’ manual for that type of event.

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