As an Integral Master Coach(TM), I am required to engage in meaningful practices to continuously hone my capacity to be in service of others. An additional benefit is that I am part of a generous community of world-leading coaches who are committed to sharing – it’s a gift that keeps on giving. This blogpost focuses on the perspectives that we each take and how this shows up during meetings. I just completed a series of mini learning sessions (which I am sharing here as a gift to our sport friends) and found the information and the practices really helpful. For those interested in learning more about themselves, others, and how they might show up differently during meetings, I invite you to take this mini e-learning module. It’s quick. It’s helpful. And it’s free!
A quick primer for those that want to know more before trying this out. As Integral Master Coaches(TM), we learn about various human development theories that we can apply as lenses through which we view the world. Being aware of these lenses is incredibly helpful because they can help free us to be a more complete, self-aware, and mindful human being. These lenses affect how we interpret information, how engaged we feel when in the presence of others, how we relate to our environment, and how we are compelled to action. In the absence of knowing and understanding how these lenses affect us, we are often frustrated, angered, anxious or depleted, and we may not fully understand why.
In working with clients on a variety of topics and witnessing how people engage during meetings, I observe the unfolding of these lenses in real time and can see how they hinder or support deeper and more meaningful conversations. Below I have described few simple tips to create a more receptive structure when designing your next meeting. In addition, if you are keen to learn more about one lens and how it impacts the way people interpret information and contribute during meetings, consider taking the Integral Coaching Canada three-part mini learning series on meetings.
Hosting more purposeful meetings:
Step 1: Ensure people understand why they are meeting. When I am hired to facilitate meetings, I work with a designated person or committee to set the agenda ahead of time. This is a helpful strategy that encourages people to more clearly articulate the purpose of the meeting and what they hope to get out of it (meeting outcomes). Once people know where they are going, they can more fully trust in the value of having the meeting in the first place.
Step 2: Be clear about the norms you need to be fully engaged. I have noticed over the years that people have different needs to feel engaged. For some it might mean to share openly. For others, they need permission to reflect and digest what is being shared. Here are my top 5 meeting norms that I use to initiate a meeting and encourage participants to add their own voice.
- Keep an open mind
- Speak your truth, respectfully
- Be present (consider the impact of social technology and have a conversation on how we want to use technology mindfully during our meeting)
- Maintain confidentiality
- Have fun (this might mean more frequent breaks, or a chance to move, or a game, or having a longer lunch to work out)
Step 3: Respect time commitments. One of the most frustrating experiences is when a meeting fails to start or end on time. This lack of respect for the meeting timing lowers trust levels before the meeting begins or for future meetings. It is better to schedule longer meetings than to force people into a corner by having them stay longer, or to compress the content of a meeting that required more time and space to fully explore. So, the next time you are tempted to start a meeting 10 minutes later to wait for someone, consider the implications of doing so.
Step 4: Take notes, negotiate next steps and seek clarity on leads. What did we agree to again? If we do not take good notes, check back with people to ensure shared understanding, map out a process to continue the work (if that is what is required), or share accountability, we are encouraging people to not follow through on promises made during the meeting. I’m not talking about taking minutes, although that is required for certain meetings – like Boards, but rather meeting notes that capture what was shared as an experience, and which can serve as a useful memory of what was agreed to, often with timelines and expected deliverables. Remember … what gets written, gets done.
Step 6: Evaluate performance. I like to do a pulse check. Sometimes I do one before a meeting occurs. A quick check in with people to assess their feelings and opinions on a given topic so that I can better prepare for the meeting. This might mean a few extra steps … but it is so worth it, especially if there has been conflict among participants in the past. In addition, I’m a fan of giving people a chance after the meeting to evaluate how it went – there is always something to learn and engaging people in the process helps to build buy-in and support the next time you meet.
Step 7: Consider the environment you want to create. Changing scenery serves two purposes – the first is that it shifts people’s mindset. Energetically, being in a new environment helps us show up differently (and if there’s baggage, it can literally create a different mindset when entering a new space). I encourage people to be mindful about the environment they need to host the conversation – sometimes heading to a cottage like experience creates the right environment for people to tackle some of the pink elephants in the room.
Step 8: Make it fun. As a soccer coach, I have learned a few tricks to keep the athletes engaged during practice. Keep it short. Keep it focused. Let them try the new set play. Have some fun games to challenge their minds and bodies. Keep them moving. Consider hosting a walking meeting … or have one during your work out. Bring a pad and pen or your phone to keep track of brilliant ideas as they arise. Some of my best work comes while I am running in nature. Find ways to make your meetings more enjoyable – think of the quality of the food, the location, and the felt experience.
Step 9: Consider mixed methods to engage different learning styles. Many people appreciate receiving something in advance so they can more fully digest and reflect. The more introverted personality types appreciate time and space before formulating a response. In addition, giving people an opportunity brainstorm, and create something, allows the more creative energy types to bring their unique gifts to the world. Introduce simple tools like music, crafts, poetry and other mediums to encourage people to be moved. When people are inspired, they are open and engaged. And when that happens … magic.
Step 10: Start and end with heart. I’m a big fan of encouraging people to get to know each before we start a meeting. And even for those of us who have known each other for years … can still learn how to know each other differently. A simple question like “please share a high (something that makes you happy) and a low (something that has you weighted down)” can create a safe space that feels more intimate and helps to increase the trust meter. High trust environments can make the impossible possible, and getting to a high trust environment begins with a commitment to nurture the space between the participants.
As always, we hope these kinds of blogs serve to educate and inspire sport leaders as they look to lead effective and impactful organizations. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org – always happy to hear from you.