encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility."
—Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Makingby Sam Kaner, et al
Do your organization’s meetings and retreats often take up hours of time but somehow fail to produce actionable plans and results at their conclusion? If so, you’re not alone. The challenge of conducting truly effective, results-oriented meetings is common in business today. Often times, the only results generated by this so-called “meeting hell” are ruffled feathers, low morale and the promise of follow-up meetings to cover the same agenda.
These results (or lack of results) are not surprising considering the ingredients in the typical meeting mix: attendees with differing agendas, viewpoints, and perspectives; power struggles that overshadow shared goals and objectives, and personality differences determining which voices are heard - with dominant personalities taking over discussions and steamrolling or discouraging those less dominant souls from getting a word or thought in edgewise.
The Solution to “Meeting Hell”
If you have an important meeting or retreat in your future, never fear, meeting facilitation is here! An experienced outside or third party facilitator will steer your meeting and its attendees from the common meeting hell pitfalls. An effective facilitator will keep a continual eye on shared outcomes while:
- - Creating an inclusive environment
- - Providing a neutral third party perspective
- - Managing the meeting process
- - Defining the issues without bias
- - Dealing with any rivalries within the group
- - Encouraging group problem-solving
- - Helping to create accountability
- - Keeping the meeting agenda on track
- - Encouraging all attendees to participate and engage
- - Steering discussions in a constructive and positive direction
- - Assisting in the development of specific goals and action plans
Reaching the Pearly Gates
Effective facilitators can bring out the best in each group member and help all participants to work together to address issues and agenda items. An outside facilitator also brings a fresh, objective perspective to the discussion and helps the group to produce actionable plans and results. Why not reject “Meeting Hell” and make your next meeting or retreat a “Slice of Heaven” instead? The truth is, discussion can be a powerful mechanism for active learning and decision-making and a well-facilitated discussion allows participants to explore new ideas while recognizing and valuing the contributions of others.