We all go to meetings and some are better than others. What makes the difference? While using someone to serve as meeting facilitator that’s not part of the group can be an excellent way to free everyone to fully engage in the meeting content, many groups don’t have such a resource. (I sometimes serve as facilitator in my role as NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds.) What’s a group to do? The answer is to come up with meeting guidelines. I prefer the term guideline (it’s like the Pirate Code from Pirates of the Carrifian – “they’re just guidelines) to ground rule; however, many in the meeting facilitation field use the latter and here’s one skilled facilitator’s take on meeting ground rules.
Roger Schwartz wrote “The Skilled Facilitator” back in the mid 1990’s and has continued his work in the field including work on the concept of Smart Leaders. He suggests the following – (excerpt from “8 Ground Rules for Great Meetings” by Roger Schwartz, Harvard Business Review, June 2016)
1. State views and ask genuine questions. This enables the team to shift from monologues and arguments to a conversation in which members can understand everyone’s point of view and be curious about the differences in their views.
2. Share all relevant information. This enables the team to develop a comprehensive, common set of information with which to solve problems and make decisions.
3. Use specific examples and agree on what important words mean. This ensures that all team members are using the same words to mean the same thing.
4. Explain reasoning and intent. This enables members to understand how others reached their conclusions and see where team members’ reasoning differs.
5. Focus on interests, not positions. By moving from arguing about solutions to identifying needs that must be met in order to solve a problem, you reduce unproductive conflict and increase your ability to develop solutions that the full team is committed to.
6. Test assumptions and inferences. This ensures that the team is making decisions
with valid information rather than with members’ private stories about what other team members believe and what their motives are.
7. Jointly design next steps. This ensures that everyone is committed to moving forward together as a team.
8. Discuss undiscussable issues. This ensures that the team addresses the important but undiscussed issues that are hindering its results and that can only be resolved in a team meeting.
Hope you have a great next meeting and let me know if I can help!