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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Encouraging Team Engagement - How to run Team Meetings

Toy Soccer Team
Source: John Cooper
"Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." --Vince Lombardi

Are you working with a team that isn't engaged as you want them to be ? Frustrated with the low level of engagement from your team members ? Do you feel that some people could contribute more.  Here are three ways you can increase the amount of engagement within your team meetings.

1 ) Prepare a Meeting Agenda

The value of a meeting agenda is in the creation process and how it allows you to foresee the level of engagement. By creating a agenda with all the main topics that you are looking to discuss you can begin to see where individuals can contribute their thoughts, expertise and opinions. With that in mind you can see right away how much engagement to expect from those who are attending. You can then make decisions on how to increase or decrease engagement. Maybe you don't need bob to be at this meeting because he can only participate for 5 minutes on his topic then be sitting there for the rest of the meeting.  

2 ) Speak last when you can

If there are decisions to be made, by speaking last you invite more conversation/discussion into the meeting from my experience. The reason why is because although its not generally said out loud, you as the leader typically have the final say. From a individual team member perspective it can be difficult for them personally to risk conflict with the leader by suggesting something different from what they have said. Additionally, as the team leader typically has final say, it can seem redundant to voice their opinion after the leader has stated what direction they believe they should go. 

By reserving your opinion for being last you are allowing room for more discussion.

3) Use the power of asking a question

The most powerful tool you have to engaging your team is your ability to ask questions. Ever been in meetings where it is dominated by one individual ? By asking questions to those who are too polite to interrupt or not as extroverted  
you provide them with the opportunity to voice their opinion. You can increase team engagement even further by asking other team members to voice their opinion of what the other team member is bringing up which will help promote discussions. This can be really important when you feel someone has something important to share but has or may not voice their opinion. Overall I generally find that you get more engagement from asking for peoples opinions and thoughts instead of leaving it open ended by saying "Does anyone have anything to add ?".

Through preparing an agenda ahead of time you'll have a better idea of the level engagement you'll have with those who are attending. Additionally, develop the habit of reserving your thoughts a little longer instead of beginning with your thoughts and you'll start seeing team mates contribute with more diversity. Lastly, use the power of asking questions to bring out more discussions and engagement from your team.


By Stevie Vu
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