Dear Dan: Should I Force the Foot-Dragger to Attend
I’d like to start a new process with my team where we meet once a month to share projects, accomplishment, challenges, etc.
The goal of the monthly meeting is to sustain or improve quality of our project work by offering feedback and suggestions. It’s also to help us build our connection to each other as we are not all located in the same physical location.
All but one person on my team is for the new process.
How do I invite/encourage the one person who rejects it? Or, do I allow them the option to not attend the meetings? Suggestions?
Thank you in advance.
Meetings can be useless time sucks. I don’t blame anyone for being reluctant to attend another one.
Ask the foot-dragger to attend three meetings.
You might approach this like a pilot project:
- Goal #1: Strengthen the team.
- Goal #2: Tap into each other’s skill, experience, and wisdom so we can better serve each other and our customers.
- Pilot: Take three months to create a meeting that’s so useful, we can’t wait to attend.
- Feedback: At the end of each meeting, clarify the purpose of the meeting and ask:
- What made this meeting worth attending?
- What would make this meeting even more useful next time?
#1. Call every teammate and discuss which project they will bring to the meeting. Formulate a question they will ask the others.
#2. Set an expectation that suggestion-givers ask a “What” or “How” question BEFORE offering suggestions.
#3. Suggestions are explorations, not obligations.
#4. The response to receiving suggestions is thank you.
#5. The recipient of input can ask questions about implementation, but they can’t “yes-but.” (see #4)
#6. Be open to changing the frequency of the meeting, if it’s not an operational meeting.
#7. Focus on trust-building.
What suggestions do you have for Wondering?
I like the skill set approach, we want your expertise and input, we value as and asset and a resource. We can build with your experiences to enhance the team. Imagine were we can take this with input from all our resources.
Set a time frame. Each person gets 2-minutes to provide updates on his/her projects.
During the update, focus on one thing that’s going very well and one topic he/she would like to get some suggestions on how to proceed.
Keep it tightly structured.
Kudos Wondering for wanting to engage your team more. I would change Dan’s tips a bit: Monthly meetings (“what are we all working on?”, “what are our challenges?”, etc.) like this are frowned upon for many reasons: (a) Do I read my weekly status reports? (another quandary * 2), (2) Can I remember what I did all months?, etc. We need to be engaging our teams much more frequently and less formally (if we want everyone to feel comfortable (Trust) with sharing what’s working, what’s not working and what’s needed.
Consider less formal information exchanges including a wiki and (managing by) walking around (at least for co-located team members.) For formal planning (for long duration planning) bring everyone together (face to face) even when it includes travel.
Trust (building and assessment) should be #1 (on my list, anyway.) Individuals have more (and more) autonomy in the workplace today, so if they’re going to step away from that space and join a formal forum, they need to know (a) It’s beneficial to “them” (at a minimum, and I mean the team as a whole including the individual), (b) It’s either well planned (formal) or comfortable enough to be open to any form of feedback (less formal, or, ideally, both.)
We want to encourage the “free flowing” of information (both positive and challenging) and not wait to bring it up…so less formalism, and more informal engagement are recommended. It’s worked for me (especially when introducing methods and tools that are less formal and more people-centric in cultures that were very formal and not delivering not their plans or commitments.)
Going back to Wondering’s original question, the notion of “forcing” an employee to go to a meeting is pretty dicey. Anything that seems like forcing the action could lead to a standoff, which is never where we want to be in leading our team.
For this one holdout, it’s worth investing the time to understand their objections (and possibly fears) and considering the weight each issue may hold for that person and the team overall. There may very well be wonderfully valid concerns this person may raise that will prompt considerations to help the entire process. Or they may be coming from a place of resistance to chance, in which case the leader can employ common change management approach like many already mentioned.
But I’d first want to examine whether I am really in a place where “forcing” the participation is my only option.
We have a monthly meeting, lasting an hour, for all staff. For all seventy staff, this amounts to a cost of about six thousand pounds, or the equivalent of having one person take a fortnight off. Be really sure you’re getting enough value out of your meeting.
Hi all – Dan made a great point when he mentioned building trust. Feedback and suggestions could sound threatening to someone who isn’t confident about how they or their work is viewed by the team. Perhaps some of the confident people could volunteer their sticky projects for commentary-feedback-suggestions so the foot dragger can observe without being the scrutinized party. That is, not 100pct full round table each meeting. I think feedback that’s requested is so much more openly received than the feedback that results from your turn at the all hands meeting. Also, bring snacks. You can’t be defensive with an oreo in each fist.
I agree with Dan’s suggestions. All teams need to be providing value. Team meetings can be really special and add a lot when done right. Done wrong and everyone dreads them. Team meetings are a good place for the manager to download the team on messaging and initiatives they’ve received from higher levels.
I’m curious as to why this person doesn’t want to attend the meeting. Time zone issues? Not interested in sharing? Less time for getting other work done? Already connecting with all these people on own and therefore this is a duplicate of all info person has already received? Or is this person scared about exposing themselves and what they may or may not be achieving? The manager could explain to this person that their experiences and feedback to others on the team is valued. (appeal to their ego if that makes sense in the situation)
In the end, the manager is only asking for 12 meetings a year! That’s really not a lot to ask of staff. I think it’s great that this one person feels comfortable speaking their mind but sometimes you just have to shut up, smile and be open minded.
This is sooooooo very valuable:
Feedback: At the end of each meeting, clarify the purpose of the meeting and ask:
What made this meeting worth attending?
What would make this meeting even more useful next time?