Making Meetings More Productive Book 3 - Managing Meeting Dysfunctions
By Dean Herrington
In this book, the third in the Making Meetings More Productive series, we introduce the concept of managing meeting dysfunctions. It will present the following thought process when determining how to manage a dysfunction:
Frequency and Magnitude of the dysfunction determines your reaction time and the power of your intervention.
Frequency: How often has this dysfunction occurred? Is it the first time or the fourth time that two participants have engaged in a side conversation?
Magnitude: How big a dysfunction is it? Is it quiet and barely noticeable, or is it loud and obvious to everyone?
Reaction Time: Some meeting leaders seem to have very high reaction thresholds; meaning it takes a huge group dysfunction to get them to react. Their reaction time is delayed. They run the risk of allowing the dysfunction to go on so long that they could totally lose control of the meeting.
Others seem to have very low thresholds, meaning that any little thing seems to set them off. Their reaction time is nearly instantaneous; they react immediately upon the first sign of even the slightest dysfunction. They run the risk of being seen as overly aggressive, and possibly causing more trouble than they were trying to fix.
The art of managing dysfunctions is to time your intervention so it's fully effective and doesn't make matters worse than they already are.
Power: Some leaders seem to always choose low power, nearly imperceptible interventions, regardless of how serious the dysfunction is. Others seem to always choose high power interventions, even for minor infractions.
The challenge is to judge the frequency and magnitude of the dysfunction, and make a conscious choice of how to manage it with an appropriate intervention. Too weak an intervention and you don't have any impact. Too strong an intervention and you can squash any further participation even by those who weren't part of the dysfunction.
We'll introduce a four-step process for managing a meeting dysfunction: (1) cushioning, (2) reflecting, (3) coaching, and (4) structuring.
For every dysfunction that you cushion and then reflect, you must make a decision to either coach or structure (you never do both). If you decide to structure, you could also pause and ask a coaching question of yourself, silently, as a way to finely hone the structuring intervention that you're about to use.
In order to test your ability to manage meeting dysfunctions you'll be presented with fifteen difficult meeting dysfunction scenarios and will be challenged to come up with detailed strategies for managing all of them. You can then compare your approach with a suggested approach.
Finally, you'll be challenged to describe a number of meeting dysfunctions that commonly occur in your organization, and come up with a strategy for managing each of them successfully.
It's going to be a lot of work. Ready?