Dear Dan: How Do I Get My Team to Participate in Meetings

Dear Dan,

How do I get my team to participate in meetings so that I am not the only one talking.

Sincerely,

Looking for participation

dog

Dear Looking,

Each member on a high performance team talks about the same amount of time as the others. Researchers call this equality of turn-taking.*

Research indicates that team intelligence on high functioning teams exceeds the combined average intelligence of team members. In other words, teams can be smart.**

Don’t blame the team for lack of participation. Take responsibility.

4 ways to invite participation in meetings:

#1. Sharpen the ax. Teams work on the work but seldom work on the team. That’s like chopping a tree down with a dull ax.

  • Assign someone to summarize an article or blog on team dynamics and explore two or three ways your team might grow. (Some teams discuss a Leadership Freak article. You might call it the Freak of the Week.)
  • Strengthen connection. I take teams through an exercise I call, “When I see you at your best.” Each person hears team members describing their strengths. (Be sure they talk to each other, not you. They must say, “When I see YOU at your best…,” not, “When Barney is at his best.”

#2. Assign agenda items to team members.

“Wilma, would you please come prepared to brief the team on agenda item #2?”

Help team members learn how to give a brief overview and invite input. When you help others, your skills improve.

#3. Create conversation around the table, not to the head of the table.

  • “Fred, what comes to mind when you hear Wilma’s input?”
  • “Betty, if you were helping Barney with this, what might you say to him?”

#4. Allow for silence.

A team of average players that pulls together will outperform a team of superstars that pulls for themselves.

Best wishes,

Dan

How might leaders invite participation in team meetings?

*What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

**Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups