In a recent study by Harvard Business Review they looked at the 4 key behaviors of successful ceos. One of those behaviors was engagement. In fact, the 3 ways the very best CEOs were engaged all happened in meeting. They were engaged with the people holding them accountable, more engaged with their team and more engaged in conflict typically through a meeting
So what’s the best way to have better meetings? Conflict.
It sounds odd but conflict is what produces results. This is not talking about conflict that causes offense but rather healthy disagreements where every gets a voice at the table and gets heard. Now in order to have healthy conflict, you need trust.
Trust building is a bit outside this post but basically your team members need to be able to trust that if they express their opinion they aren’t going to be roasted for it or have their job in jeopardy. Conflict should be welcomed. In his book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni goes through how to have a better meeting and a better team.
No one like meetings, the answer is clear because nothing ever gets done. The key to unlocking meeting is navigating through healthy conflict.
Some scenarios and examples of how to do that. It’s worth prefacing this with make sure that the team members or those involved in the meeting should be aware that conflict is expected and that this is a “safe environment.”
Real Estate - In a real estate business there’s usually one "rainmaker", agents that work with clients and maybe some admin staff. Keeping the team together is a challenge. However, if you were the broker and you pushed your agents and asked them, “what are we doing right now that we should stop?” You might be surprised by their answers. To warm them up you should ask, “what are we doing well.” The difference of opinion will be good. These conflict conversations often breed trust vs ranting about how many Rowlett homes you sold.
Business - Let’s say you’re having a meeting with top executives at Coca-Cola about the mission. You might ask, “are we communicating our mission effectively?” These kind of open ended questions leave enough room for opinions to be expressed without there being a sense of punishment.
Will, Financial Planning, General Attorney Meetings - These meetings with service professionals are often one sided with them delivering the service. How can you trust them or how can you bring healthy conflict? Simply ask them open ended questions that seem innocuous enough to build the trust, like “what’s one question I should ask you but haven’t?”
The key to conflict is creating trust through safety. All parties have to be free to express their dissenting opinions without fear of repercussion. Also key is that once a direction is established all parties have to agree to move forward.