In 2015 Google conducted research on 180 of their teams to identify the success habits common to the most effective teams. One of their findings was that successful managers encouraged their people to speak in roughly the same proportion. Basically, all team members get the same amount of airtime to share their opinion. No, It won’t be exactly the same for every meeting, but it should balance out over time, and the manager (or meeting facilitator) needs to keep this in mind.
When I facilitate strategic planning sessions for clients, I use a number of tactics (I call them “meeting rules”) to encourage equal airtime and prevent louder, more dominant team members from monopolizing the discussion.
One of my rules is to make sure the leader speaks last. I ask the junior team members to share their opinions first and go around the room giving everyone an equal opportunity to speak. This prevents leaders from biasing the discussion or narrowing down the options too early.
Another meeting rule is that we must listen generously, without interruption.
Then there is my 60-second rule, which I explain as follows. “I will go around the room and encourage each person to share their opinion. I want you to speak your mind, but ‘don’t hog the mic’. Imagine I have a countdown timer. For the first 45 seconds, you have a green light to speak. After 45 seconds the light turns yellow and you should start wrapping up. At 60 seconds the light turns red, and you need to stop and let someone else speak. If you don’t, I will interrupt you, and ask you to summarize your thoughts so we can let someone else have their turn.”
(Personal disclosure. I also use my 60-second rule during social interactions. For example, at group gatherings, if I’m on the receiving end of a 1-way monologue with a “bore” who “violates” my 60-second rule, I look for ways to interject with questions, or involve other people in the conversation. If all else fails, extract myself from their presence asap).
Bore (noun): one that causes weariness and restlessness through lack of interest
I have developed a series of “meeting rules”, that make company meetings more effective, covering aspects like: how to respectfully debate the options, how to make decisions, how to hold people accountable, and much more. If you’re interested in this topic, I’m about to release my updated training course on how to run “Meetings with Impact”. Send me a note if you want early access.
Until next time…
Stephen Lynch is the author of the award-winning book; “Business Execution for RESULTS: A practical guide for leaders of small to mid-sized firms” winner in the “Management” category of the 2014 Small Business Book Awards in the USA.
He’s also written articles on strategy and management for The Economist magazine.
Need a Strategic Plan Facilitator for your next planning session? A Business Coach to help you scale your business? Management Training to upskill your team? Contact Stephen to discuss your needs.