Facilitating Effective Meetings


>>JOAN STROHAUER: So, today’s presentation is Facilitating Effective Meetings, and the two presenters are Gloria Lindsay and myself, Joan Strohauer. I’ll say a little bit about myself. I am currently an Education Programs Consultant at the Department of Personnel Management overseeing the Virtual Training Center for the State of California. I have approximately 25 years’ experience in designing and conducting training programs on a wide range of topics. So, Gloria, would you like to introduce yourself?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Yes. Good morning. My name is Gloria Lindsay, and I’m a Training Officer at the Department of Public Health. I’ve been a training officer for 18 years and I have a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Behavior. I’m also a Certified Technology and Participation Facilitation Methods Trainer, and I serve as a volunteer mentor facilitator at the Sacramento Professional Facilitation Office where we have monthly facilitator mentoring sessions for anyone interested in learning more about facilitation.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Gloria, we are so pleased that you’ll be joining us today for this webinar and sharing your excellent information. So, let’s see if we get into facilitating effective meetings. During times of budget cuts and staff reductions, successful supervisors, managers or anyone leading a meeting needs to know how to lead a meeting so that we can get the knowledge, skills, abilities and creativities of individual group members combined to create results. For some, this comes naturally how to lead a meeting. But for most of us, we need to learn these skills through training and practice, and this is the purpose of this webinar today. So whether you lead or are a member of a team– problem solving, project management, unit meetings or interdisciplinary meetings, we hope that you will learn some tips and ideas that will help you. As far as our objectives for our hour together, is by the end of the session you should be able to identify the skills and values needed to be an effective facilitative leader; identify what to do before, during and after the meeting to ensure results, as there are specifics at each area; identify skills for improving team processes, such as agendas, minutes, ground rules; and also, fourthly, to identify tools to encourage team involvement because team involvement does not happen by accident. But first of all, what we’d like to do is to take a poll and we’d like to see how would you rate the majority of the meetings just the majority of the meetings that you attend. What would you say? Gloria, I see we’re getting some mixed answers here.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Actually, it’s looking positive, sort of.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Yeah, I was going to say except for two people, “Poor.” We know that many people dread them. Like to see some “Excellents” there, but I hope after the webinar that some people will be able to rate them that way. Well, I see quite a few people have participated. We’ll wait a moment here to see if anyone else wants to get involved. But it looks, Gloria, pretty much like between “Good” and “Fair.”>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Well, that’s not too bad, but we have some room for development.>>JOAN STROHAUER: And we hope everyone will get an idea or two today. So, when we take a look at this, you’re not alone, those of you who did not rate meetings excellent, because one of the top 10 time wasters identified by managers is ineffective meetings, and managers spend approximately 50 percent of their working life attending, conducting and preparing for and following up on meetings. And if you multiply the salary out on that, about 50 percent of their time, plus the time and cost of people attending, you can see that ineffective meetings are very expensive. Also, in some research, almost one third of all meetings were considered unnecessary by the people who attended them. So one of the things we’ll be saying is please take a look at who you invite to meetings because perhaps we have sometimes too many people. But one of the things we want to jump into is, Gloria, because of your wonderful expertise, how about if you define facilitation for us.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Sure. Well, as you can see, facilitation, in almost any dictionary, is the act of making a process easy or easier. A facilitator is a person who provides structured processes in order to enable those the team, the group, community group or whatever group you’re assembling– to not only understand each other, but build consensus and move forward to some actions that will create those results you’re after. So teams and groups succeeding and attaining those shared goals is really, I think, the ultimate of facilitation. One of the how do I say, definitions that I ran across that applies to facilitation is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations. I think that’s definitely part of what a facilitator does. And let me see, in terms of structure and content, there is a separation of the two. There’s a role of the leader. You know, we’re starting to talk a little bit about the roles because the leader isn’t always or I should say, the facilitator isn’t always the leader. But in this case, in the role of the leader, the leader normally manages content. They are responsible for resources which could be money or staff, team capacity, and organizational boundaries in terms of what will be done, what won’t be done, when it will be done; that kind of thing. The role of the facilitator is to manage the structure and the process; how are we going to get there in terms of results. So their job is to manage that portion of the facilitative process. And so, what the processes will help the group do is to understand the issue and be able to determine what they need to do to get to some results. The processes also help the team reveal any barriers or constraints that might hinder their progress. It’s very important to look at what might get in our way. If we don’t do that, it could derail all of our efforts. What the processes also do is they help the group identify focused relevant actions, because you don’t want to be spinning around. You want to go in a very focused relevant direction to achieve those outcomes and goals that you’re after. So the role of the facilitator is to focus on the process to getting to the meeting outcomes.>>JOAN STROHAUER: And Gloria, sometimes people are kind of surprised at just how important the structure and process is, so we’d like to ask the group what they think, and if you were going to say what percent of meeting problems would you estimate have to do with lack of structure and process, as opposed to the content, would you say 75 percent or above, about 50, or less than 25? Wow, we’re seeing good results here. You guys are getting quick. Okay. A mix between I see that people are saying it’s at least 50. They’re definitely in the ballpark there. They sure are. And it really depends upon which meeting and everything, and this is generalized, but you want to give the answer. Okay, and the answer is 75 percent or more of meeting problems have to do with a lack of structure. And when we say “structure,” are you surprised about that? Probably not. You know, we’ve all been to meetings that have not been productive. So when we talk about structure and process, we mean providing a plan, an agenda for and expected outcomes, why are we there and what are we there to achieve? Encouraging clear, relevant communication that fosters the group understanding the issues at hand. Group problem solving processes so that the group can work through their dilemma, whatever that might be. Group decision making processes. What decisions need to be made and who will be making the decision? Sometimes it’s not the group making the decision; it’s the leader. But the leader wants to be informed by the group.>>JOAN STROHAUER: So, Gloria, why should managers develop facilitation skills?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Well, that’s a very good question, Joan. One of the main reasons, I think, is managers are leaders who must accomplish goals and objectives or produce results through other people, through their thinking, problem solving and decision making of others. So leaders really need to be able to rally the brains of the group. Leaders need good facilitation skills to utilize the valuable mental resources available to them and produce those results. They also need them in order to encourage team work and effective communication on an ongoing basis so that when you are in a facilitative mode where you’re planning working through an issue, you can work effectively as a team and communicate well. So, think of an orchestra leader. You might, as an orchestra leader, lead the Band, but they’re the ones playing the instruments. How can you, as a leader, inspire them to play with their heart, but also with their brain, their instrument, so that you have a beautiful concert at the end of the session. So let’s talk about some of those facilitator skills. Being a facilitative leader requires some special skills. As we go through these five major skills and their subcomponents, think about where your strengths lie and what skills do you need to develop. If you’d like to create an action plan this morning as we cover these skills, put an “S” next to any skill area you believe is your strength, and then put a “D” next to those you want to develop. And you’ll see>>JOAN STROHAUER: And this is in your handouts, and you may want to turn to this page, and I’m putting it up so you’ll know what it looks like, and we encourage you, as Gloria speaks, to fill this out. If you didn’t get the handouts ahead, we will resend them to you later.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Great. Thanks, Joan. The facilitator so, we’ll start with structuring the process. It’s about helping the leader. If you’re the facilitator and not necessarily the leader, helping the leader define what’s needed. Putting together an agenda. Do you really need a meeting? Maybe you need something else. So, helping the leader define what’s needed, putting the agenda together to focus on outcomes. Facilitate communication. That’s probably the main reason you’re coming together is to share ideas, and among group members and with leaders and stakeholders, you can communicate thoughts and feelings clearly that’s the hope and know when to ask the right questions. That’s the role of the facilitator, is to ask those very important, pertinent and meaningful questions at the right time. Listen, uncover hidden meanings, and see that ideas are not lost. Be able to read the group; that’s one of the important roles of a facilitator. Also, build agreement and consensus. It’s really not just about raising ideas, but it’s also coalescing the group to a place where they’re ready to take action. Hopefully concerted action to where they’re working together. Consensus on goals or a level of group buy in has a direct relationship to the outcomes that you’d produce. So, you need to identify areas of agreement and use team problem solving tools in order to do that. We’ll talk a little more later about consensus. Manage conflict. That can you know, provide the tools for the group to manage its own conflict. No matter what situation, you more than likely are going to run into group conflict. Actually, it’s really a good thing; it means folks are thinking, they have diverse ideas, they come into the group with diverse ideas, and they’re sharing them, and so that’s a really good thing. You want that to happen. But you also want folks to maintain respect for one another, and it requires an understanding of group dynamics and the ability to handle challenging behaviors. And, finally, transfer capacity. Enabling the team to learn from one another. Because, you know, part of sharing ideas is also a learning process. So, developing the group’s ability to take responsibility for the meeting as well, because it is their time, it is their meeting. Having methods that follow up on team decisions so they don’t get lost, so their focus can have evaluation strategies so we know what to do better next time. So, which of the skills do you believe is your strength? Let’s take a quick poll and find out. Which skill area do you most need to develop? You know what your strengths are, but now what do you want to develop?>>JOAN STROHAUER: Oh, look, “Managing conflict.” That tends to be a big one with most facilitators that I speak with. Just so people know, we had a webinar about a couple weeks ago and it’s in our library if people want more information on conflict in general, but we will be addressing some of the ways to avoid conflict later as we move through the webinar.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Wow, managing conflict, a little bit about facilitating communication, but there you go, managing conflict. It’s not an easy one, but definitely important. So let’s move on to; we talked a little bit about the skills. Let’s move forward to some of the values because I think the values have to do with also, at some level, with managing conflict. So, equally as important as your strengths to be an effective facilitator is living and breathing the values of a facilitator. Your words and actions really show up in terms of demonstrating your beliefs and values. So what are facilitator values that enable effective facilitation? Believe in the inherent ability of the group to solve its own problems. Absolutely. Don’t be rushing in there, whether you’re the leader or the chairperson, to give all the answers, because believe it or not, that’s why you brought the group together. They have the brains, they have the expertise and the experience to solve their own problems. You’d be surprised the amazing results groups can produce. And then also place leadership of the content in the hands of the group. Let them know that you value and trust their input and that really helps the group respond with a lot more commitment to the results. So let’s take another I think we’re taking another poll, aren’t we?>>JOAN STROHAUER: At this time, we’re moving onto the steps of facilitating an effective meeting.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Oh, we are.>>JOAN STROHAUER: And there are three steps we kind of take a look at, is before, during and after the meeting. And we frequently say that before the meeting is the planning and gathering of organization and organizing information. That takes about 50 percent of the effort and the time where time should go. Sometimes people are surprised at that. Too often people just say, oh, we’ve got a meeting in ten minutes; let’s throw together an agenda quick. Instead, we really need to the more important the meeting, the more time that should be spent on it. In terms of during the meeting, this involves facilitating the group process. If we’ve done our homework before, we’ve planned this all out, so about, we would say, 30 percent of the meeting effectiveness is dependent upon it. And third is after the meeting, the follow up accounts for certainly holding people accountable. We say about 20 percent of the effectiveness. So we take a look let’s take a look at some of the things that we can do before the meeting. If you are actually a facilitator and this is why we say sometimes it’s your own meeting, somebody may have requested it and you’re facilitating for someone else, but especially if you’re meeting for someone else, be sure to meet with the leader, the supervisor, or requester before the meeting to make sure that you’re on track of what they’re trying to accomplish. Secondly, define if a meeting is even needed, either with them or with yourself. Is there a better way? Can I just send out an email with the information? Or perhaps people are located geographically around the state; could we have an electronic meeting? So some of the things we want to consider is, do we need a meeting at all and what kind? However, regardless of what kind of meeting, we need to clearly define what we call POP. Three things: The people, who is to come; the outcomes or the products that we want. What are the results? And the processes or methods to achieve these. Actually, we have an excellent handout in your materials that I want to call your attention to as a facilitative planning sheet, and you will see that there are very good questions that you can be asking in each of the areas. And we’re going to specifically look at what we call POP and the people, outcomes and process. And people, who will be the participants? What’s their expertise? Have you brought the right people together? Who will be affected by the results? Are there stakeholders? And who’s the decision maker with respect to this issue? Can we make sure that the person is there or are we making a recommendation to them? And how do you want the participants to be after this meeting in terms of what they’ll be doing? As far as outcomes, what are the results or products that you expect? And who will be responsible for implementing, and again, what do you want to be different? I’m currently working on a consolidation effort between two departments and we want the outcome, of course, to be a very well run new CalHR, the end result of our efforts. So we’re really clear on the outcomes. In terms of the process, what are the expectations of what’s going to happen? And the key here is, how are you going to get there? And we want to make sure that we have a good place for the meeting to be held, and good facilities, and then there’s other tips. But those are just some of the things we want you to consider when we start talking about when we say “POP.” And these can we have them in this order, but keep in mind, these are all intermingled, and that what you want to do is make sure that you have the right people for the outcomes you want. Depending upon those, then you want to be thinking about processes and methods. Also, before the meeting, what we want to do is to select when and where the meeting will take place because many times you are limited by the space facilities that you have, and it can very much impact the processes and how many people you can attend. And certainly plan the agenda. Once we have down the basic information, we want to make sure that we’re very clear on what’s going to happen; all the participants know the outcomes of the processes. And communicate the purpose and outcomes to participants before the meeting, is because maybe you want to ask for their input. Perhaps you send out a draft, if appropriate, and get their input and then finalize the agenda. And as far as an agenda, some of the things that we want to make sure that we cover, what I frequently find is that people will do an agenda, one of the things that they do is they just jot down a couple of words, and instead, go through what we all learned in school about the five W’s and the H, and who should attend and what are their roles and Gloria will take more about roles in a moment what are the expected outcomes, when is the meeting? Very clear on the start and end times. I frequently get meeting notices with the start time and no end time. Where is it? Do I have an appropriate setting? Why is the meeting important in terms of the context? And how will the meeting be conducted? What processes will we use? What I’d like to do is to just pull up a couple of sample agendas. These are very simple ones, and certainly, you may want to use Microsoft Word. They have great templates. But here is just a very simple agenda that you might want to consider. It’s the “Meeting called by, date, start and end times, outcomes.” What I like about this particular method is we have the time frame, we know what the person’s going to talk about, we know who’s going to do it and how they’re going to do it. Is it going to be a group discussion? Is it going to be brainstorming? How are we going to achieve these? Another sample agenda is simply one that somewhat along the same lines, but again, it lays out all those responsibilities. But, Gloria, I know that when you facilitate, you use a little different approach, and I’d like you to share more of the facilitative agenda.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Okay. Well, it’s just another sample. Again, I really liked the two that you shared, Joan, but another sample, really, is just a listing of welcoming and introducing some of the folks that are in the room especially when they don’t know each other and then really giving some clear information about the role of the facilitator so everybody’s clear what the facilitator does and does not do, and what the role of the participants are. So you’ll just kind of move through what the expected outcomes are, which I think you listed on some of your samples, Joan. Your planned processes. What the group will be doing so they’re all ready. Hopefully, they’ve seen this agenda ahead of time. And so keep in mind the importance of getting agreement and consensus or at least making the participants aware of the agenda ahead of time so they know what they’re getting into, basically. And so and also, that next steps might be required for them, and that you’ll be evaluating the meeting.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Well, let’s see if there’s any questions, Gloria. And I see there is one, and it says, “Gloria, I am interested in the facilitation group; can you send me the information on it?”>>GLORIA LINDSAY: I certainly can.>>JOAN STROHAUER: And what we’ll do is send it to everyone just in case. How does that sound?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Great. Sounds great.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Okay. Then, let’s move on and let’s take a look at what you do during the meeting. And a couple of things we want to look at specifically is how do you start the meeting, what do you do actually during to get the input, and then closing the meeting. So, when we say start the meeting, a couple of things: I like to say that rule number one is start on time regardless of who is there. Because have some kind of warm up activity or something you can get people to do. What we frequently find is that people sit and wait and wait for the latecomers and what we are in effect doing is we are rewarding the latecomers and punishing people who come on time. And, yes, maybe you need to wait for a key person, but perhaps you can do some introductions, have some updates or whatever. But starting on time is very critical. Also, clarify roles and also be sure to introduce members, especially if it’s a new group, and even be sure to introduce members if the group hasn’t met for a while and they don’t know each other as well. I belong to one intergovernmental group, we only meet about every three months, and I have to admit I sometimes forget names, but also, many times people send substitutes and so the poor person who comes and has never been before doesn’t know who any of the other members are. So always remember those introductions. Also, clarify roles. Who’s going to do what? And as I said, Gloria will elaborate on this in a moment. Also, have some kind of check in or warm up. Something that can be a filler, but very useful and appropriate. Even, you might want to have one, if it’s an ongoing group and you want to do some catch up there is a page in your handout materials that gives you some examples of how you might run these. Because of time, we are going to just refer you to those. Also, review your agenda and explain the processes, and certainly, generate agreed upon ground rules, which again, we will elaborate on in just a moment. So Gloria, how about the roles? I know you feel very strongly about these.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Okay. Yes, roles are important to clarify because participants see their roles when they know what the roles are, it impacts how they participate because they know who’s responsible for what. And it also helps them gauge you gauge their level of buy in and commitment to the implemented plan, so it’s really important to be clear about what the roles are. We’ll start with the facilitator, and the facilitator typically determines and manages the process. Of course, they’re flexible with the group needs, but also manages that process. The leader is the person who called the meeting to together. Maybe they called the facilitator in order to structure the meeting. So they might be the manager, supervisor, a chairperson, the team leader, but sometimes it is a separate person. Sometimes the facilitator and the leader is the same person. Team members. Their role is to participate. It’s assumed, but it’s very important to make it clear that you do anticipate, you do encourage team members to actively participate in the process. You expect that. The more they know about the meeting and team skills, the more effective they will be. Let’s move on to recorder. Sometimes there is an individual recording the ideas that are generated, and particularly the action plans, or the implementation plan. So make sure that there is somebody available to do that if that’s possible. They may even be the role of the time keeper. Time keeper is also very important because all of us have limited time and our time is very precious, so it’s important to respect our time and be on time. So start on time, end on time, or early if you can. And then finally, decision makers. It’s very important to be clear about who’s making the decision. Sometimes the leader wants to generate information from a team or a group and that will inform a decision that’s made by someone else. It’s important to be clear about that. If people are assuming that they are making the decision, then you might run into some challenges and probably some conflict. But keep in mind that all team members share responsibility for effective team leadership during the entire meeting. So, Joan, let’s move on to ground rules.>>JOAN STROHAUER: I know. This is one of my favorite topics, and I suspect that we’ve all attended meetings where someone dominates, someone wanders, and I have a question that said, “How do you keep it on track?” Ground rules are one of the ways that you can do it. So, what exactly are they? They are guidelines for team behavior and how the team will function. They focus primarily on involvement and respect. They may be such things, as in our sample, as ask questions; agree to disagree agreeably; avoid side conversations; avoid interrupting, and so on. But basically, there are standards of acceptable and unacceptable behavior that are set at the start of the meeting and can eliminate problems before they ever begin. However, a couple of tips: They are most effective when they are generated and agreed upon by the group. It is okay to provide a few examples, such as the one on this page to kind of prime the pump, but if you simply hand out a set of ground rules to a group that had been set by another group, there is no commitment, there is no buy in, and frequently, it will not focus on the issues that are relevant to this particular group. Also, be sure to operationalize them. And what I mean by that is be specific. Sometimes people, they’ll say show respect, but what does that mean? What does respect look like? It might be listen, clarify ideas, restate, suspend judgment. So again, this operationalizing is very, very important. Also, I’d like to say that generating ground rules is not a one time activity. You don’t just generate them and then put them away, which I see happens with many groups. We have great ground rules and never to be seen again. And one of the things you want to do is to make sure that the ground rules are posted at every meeting, and at least quickly review them or make some reference to them because it is so important that they aren’t sort of like some of the strategic plans that get put in a drawer never to be seen again. The other thing is you need to decide how they’re going to be monitored. Is the group going to monitor them? Sometimes people are uncomfortable to say, gee, you interrupted me, or or we need to get going. And it gets a little bit people feel rude. That’s why having a facilitator can be so great, because it’s the facilitator’s role and defined at the start. We might want to say, Great point, but let’s get back to the agenda, if that’s appropriate. Sometimes side we might want to bring up an issue and it’s important at the time, but always getting back to track so we can meet our time frames. Also, in terms of the body of the meeting, Gloria, I know you have thoughts there.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Okay. Well, that was I really appreciate what you were sharing about ground rules, Joan, because they are very important and help you as a facilitator to manage conflict, and also knowing that given the topic that you’re talking about, those ground rules can be very helpful to you. So let’s talk about the body of the meeting. Good meetings, as Joan said earlier, don’t happen by accident. They’re planned. So you want to start out by setting the context of the meeting. Let the attendees, and hopefully these are the stakeholders who are involved in, if it’s a plan that you’re creating or some kind of problem solving, set the context exactly what is the question we’re wanting to answer, or the ideas we want to generate, the plan we want to create, and why are we doing it? You know, people want to know not only what we’re doing, but why are we doing it and why we’re doing it now. That helps people to understand the importance and the critical nature of us coming together right now. Find ways to get input from everyone. Diverse ideas are very important to creating good, solid, workable plans. So encourage those diverse point of views. Even though they’re not always popular, oftentimes you’ll find that’s where the gold is, when you’re coming up with new ideas. People can share their ideas. You’ll take a little bit of one person’s idea and a little bit of another, and there you go, you’ve got a great a plan. So finding ways to get input from everyone is very important and there are many ways you can do that. Handling disruptive behavior is another very important element and it also goes to managing trust and respect in the group. So diagnose and intervene. Make sure as the facilitator you’re keeping the group moving, but also handle any disruptive behavior when it arises, because it can stall the group if you don’t do that. Keep group focused and moving forward. I think that’s part of everything that we’ve talked about. You know, a group can fall asleep or get distracted mentally if you’re not moving forward and focused. So let’s talk about some of those tools for getting input. We’ve come up with about five that Joan and I will be talking about, starting out with brainstorming. Most of us have been have participated in brainstorming from one time or another. Maybe for ourselves, we’re brainstorming an activity. Possibly a Christmas party, who knows. So another one is a nominal group technique. Joan will be talking about that. Multi voting. I’ll share a little bit about World Cafe and electronic meetings, one of the things we’re doing right now. And each tool has a very specific purpose, so you won’t use these all the time. Maybe you’ll want to use them in various meetings depending on the purpose and the outcomes. So, Joan, let’s talk about brainstorming.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Brainstorming. One of my favorites. I think most people are familiar with it, and it involves generating as many ideas as possible very quickly. The goal is to get the creativity and energy of the group. However, I find that although many people are familiar and you can define brainstorming, they frequently groups get stuck because they start to throw out ideas and then something is interesting, or somebody wants to argue, and they start discussing and asking questions on the first or second idea. The idea behind all of brainstorming is to get all of the ideas out quickly, then come back and discuss. So what I find that can be helpful, Gloria, is to set guidelines for brainstorming to kind of remind people of how to do it. And I usually put up a chart that has these four bullets on it. And we simply say: Generate, don’t evaluate. Because we want to get ideas out and we are not going to discuss them. We are or say we like them or don’t like them. We’re just going to list them. Be freewheeling. Encourage wild ideas. Sometimes it’s the wild idea itself might seem kind of crazy, but what you will frequently find is that sometimes it can give thought to something. I remember one brainstorming session we were talking about is was, how do you deal with customers and some said, oh, there’s some I’d like to hang. And everybody laughed. You know, we’ve all had difficult customers. But we wrote it down anyway, and what came up with on how to deal with customers and make them feel special and important was to hang their picture in the waiting room, and so the funny word really gave meaning to an excellent idea. So even if somebody says something wild, write it down. We can always cross it off later. Also, go for quantity. We say quantity, quantity, quantity. And the reason we say this is when people start brainstorming, you usually get the tried and true first, and it’s the creative ideas that generally come later. Also, hitchhike, combine and improve. And what we mean by this is you might want to pull two ideas together. So what we and that’s perfectly okay. Not each idea has to be totally separate. So, one of the things, if you are facilitating the meeting and you’re using brainstorming, we encourage you to review these guidelines and then if someone starts asking a bunch of questions or arguing or saying too much, you might say, Now, let’s move on and get some additional ideas and we’ll come back to you. Now, nominal group technique, I like to use very much, but it depends on the makeup of the group. It is a more structured approach than brainstorming and some people are much more comfortable with it. And the way what nominal group is, it’s very like brainstorming but it’s kind of done in order. First of all, the leader or facilitator asks the question and they allow people a couple of minutes to jot down ideas individually. Many people that don’t like the spontaneousness of brainstorming appreciate this because they like to mull, they like to pull their thoughts together. So a lot of it is knowing the personality styles and preferences of the people in the room. After you’ve given them a minute or two to think, you go around and ask each person in turn to give one idea. You’re not discussing. They just give their ideas, and you go around the room in turn. And if someone doesn’t have a thought, it’s okay to pass, and they can jump back in next time their turn comes. And when no more ideas, you can go back and discuss each one more fully. What is useful about this is, again, it controls the conversation. It allows quieter or newer members of the group to jump in, and some people, they say, “How do I get into a meeting?” Everybody’s so animated, and they try to raise their hand, perhaps. But when we use nominal group technique, what we find is that people who are a bit quieter are much more comfortable with this, and then it also has some control over who is talking in case you should have a dominator. So when to use it? As I mentioned, when there’s new or quiet members or perhaps when you’re discussing something highly controversial and people get a little emotional, perhaps, and start interrupting, this is the way to say, Hey, let’s go around the room and hear each person’s thought on this topic, and then we’ll come back, discuss, and you’ll have your time. It’s also useful when a team is stuck in disagreement, because sometimes just saying, Okay, we seem to be in disagreement. Let’s go around and hear each person’s thoughts one more time and see if we can find those areas of agreement. Now, let’s look at multi voting. Multi voting is a great follow on to either brainstorming or nominal group. Now, what this is, it is a subjective prioritizing technique and it’s basically a way to narrow down a long list of ideas that might take forever to discuss to just those that are the most appropriate, feasible and important. And what it is, it’s basically a straw poll or vote to select those ideas that people think are most important and narrowing down a list. And as I said, it’s great after a brainstorming and nominal group discussion because you might have a list of 25 ideas, we really can only take the time to really work on five or six. So, how do we do it? First of all, we generate the list, and I like to number them so I can always remember to come back. Have all members select it can be the top three or five or maybe even half, whatever you want, and then you take a vote, and it can be either a show of hands or some people like to use the dots, where you give everybody three to five dots and they go up to a board where they’re all listed and they put the dots on the wall to show what they think is most important. Or sometimes if there’s some feelings of, I don’t want people to really know what I think, or I’m a little uncomfortable for some reason, perhaps you can have them write the numbers of the ideas on a card and then you can just simply read them off and find out which ones have the priority. I particularly like the multi vote because one time I was in a staff meeting where the staff had pretty strong feelings about what we should be working on and what were our biggest barriers, and they wanted to talk about communication. But for some reason, management kept putting it off. So they did say, Well, let’s brainstorm. What are our priority issues, and communications got up there and when they allowed us to put dot. There were so many dots over the word “communication,” you could hardly read it, and it was a strong statement that staff really felt we needed to work in that area. Also, after you do it, you can eliminate those with the fewest votes, and then if the list is still kind of long, you can repeat this process. So, Gloria, this is one that’s really exciting, and it’s newer to many people. Can you tell us about World Cafe?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Sure. The World Cafe is a method of meaningful group dialogue that was created by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, and the World Cafe is the conversations provide a way for communities, businesses, governments or concerned citizens to create a common purpose, share knowledge, make informed decisions and resolve to take action together. So it’s a collaborative dialogue, where folks are sharing lots of varied and diverse ideas, and one of the I guess one of the ways you can use World Cafe, because it’s really more of an interactive process where you have a lot of small groups together and everybody’s talking. So it’s a little bit different than nominal group technique where you’re having more of a quiet process. This is a little bit of a louder process, but it’s more interactive. Everybody’s involved, so it’s an opportunity to encourage team building and communication if that’s what you want to do in your group or in your team. It’s also when you use it, you would use it when you have diverse ideas in the group and you want the entire group to benefit from exchanging those diverse ideas. And also, when you want to give everyone a chance to share their ideas and build upon the ideas of others. So how do you do the World Cafe? Well, you really start with creating groups of four and you set the context, because everyone wants to know, okay, what will we be talking about? It could be one question or two. You will have rounds of about anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, groups of four having a conversation around the questions that you provide. One or more meaningful professionally meaningful questions, if that’s the context of the group. You will also explore the questions that really matter. Not just anything, but questions that the group are very engaged in and pertinent for the time, for the moment, and for what they’re intending to be there for. And at the next round so what they’ll do is they’ll have the conversation. One person and then once they’re completed the conversation, one person will remain at the table and the other three will travel to separate tables. So that’s where the cross pollination occurs. And everybody is sharing their ideas at different tables so you’re really getting a smattering of everyone’s ideas. And so when you come to a new table, the table host will welcome the new folks and share the essence of what was discussed prior to the new people arriving, and then the new arrivals will share their common threads. So it’s really just a free for all in terms of ideas, which is which is and it generates a lot of really wonderful energy that is very useful when you’re wanting to motivate a group to work together. So, at the end of the session, participants return to either their original table or move to another table, so you can arrange it that way, but what’s really great is they’re listening to one another, they’re engaged, and their harvesting the gold of their ideas. Let’s move on to electronic meetings. One of the things we’re doing today, one of my favorite things to do. But there are advantages and disadvantages to electronic meetings. I’m sure many of you have thought of some of those as well. One of the advantages is electronic meeting for an electronic meeting, is that individuals avoid the pressure to conform. When you’re at your computer, you know, you’re able to put in your input and not be impacted by other people’s ideas or facial expressions, or groans, or whatever that might be in the room. You’re really just interjecting your ideas. Yet, a disadvantage is the sense of diminished connectedness that a person might feel when they’re alone in their cubicle or office. Or who knows where they’re at. They might not feel as connected to the group. So one of the tools that are available to you is of course, LiveMeeting, what we’re using today. Another one is GoToMeeting. I’ve used that a number of times. And WebEx, I know that’s very popular in the state. And then another software that’s available for facilitated meetings is something called MeetingWorks. So, you can just really test out all the different ones that are available. Now, so let’s ask you a quick question, which is: Which tool for generating input would you be willing to use in one of your upcoming meetings? Come on, push the envelope out there. Be willing to try something new, different? Maybe you’re planning a meeting where you’re looking, hmm, that World Cafe might be useful for this group I’m going to be working with. Oh, I’m seeing a lot of “All of the above.” That’s great.>>JOAN STROHAUER: I was happy to see none of the above. so that’s okay. That’s okay. It all depends upon the group, what is appropriate, and we’re seeing that people look quite comfortable with brainstorming and using a variety. So, what we need to do here is let’s move on and take a look at Gloria, I know one of your near and dear to the hearts is consensus.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Uh huh. And so achieving consensus, you can test it in many ways. One, I think very useful way, and I’ve seen many ways to do it, is gradients of agreement. What gradients of agreement demonstrate are different levels of group agreement. Because when you come together with a group of people, I’m sure you’ve experienced, not everyone agrees to the same level at all times, whether you’re at the beginning of the meeting or at the end of the meeting when you’ve made a decision, or you’ve created an implementation plan. So you want to determine what are the levels of agreement so you know what the level of buy in, and whether you need to have more conversation down the road. So gradients of agreement incorporates a way to have all the concerns of the folks in the room identified and have some acceptable proposals move forward. So everybody’s ideas are incorporated. It also generates a collaborative solution. That way, everybody’s ideas come together in a solution and so that there’s more buy in and they’re working together with open communication and trust. And that’s what you want at the beginning of an implementation plan, folks focused and ready to move forward. Okay. So consensus, how do you do it? Well, first of all, you want to identify the values and concerns in the group, and so you can find many ways to do that. You know, a quick World Cafe, you can use the nominal nominal group technique and/or voting. So there are many ways you can identify the values and concerns of the group on the particular issue that you’re addressing. You also want to generate those proposals from the group. How might we address this concern that we’re here to make a decision about or to create an implementation around. Encourage clarifying questions. What that means is not every idea will be clear to everyone in the group. Obviously, there will be questions, so you want to encourage questions because it’s not always easy for everyone to ask questions. They might think it’s a silly question, but it’s a very important question. So that they understand what’s being proposed; they understand what they’re voting on, or what they’re buying into. So make sure that you have a process for folks being able to ask questions around the proposals that are set forth. See differences of opinion as a way to clarify. Sometimes when folks have different ideas and various diverse ideas, it’s really sort of opposite ends of the spectrum, so it’s a great way to really look at a situation from many different perspectives. It might feel a little uncomfortable to some of the people in the group, and sometimes you need to push through that to get to the really the real gold of the ideas. As Joan mentioned earlier, you never know where the great ideas are going to come from. And then test for consensus along the way. As you delineate those proposals or a proposal, maybe one or two proposals that the group will decide on, you’ll want to test for consensus. Well, which one is the group most supportive of? There might be different levels of support, but which one is going to really generate the support of the group, because the group, if I’m assuming the group are the folks who are going to be implementing the plan. If the implementers are not signed on and have full support of the proposal, you’re going to have trouble with implementation and accountability down the road. So you want to make sure consensus at whatever level is available to you. So sometimes when you’re trying to achieve consensus, you might find that there’s a little acting out going on on the part of disgruntled participants. Maybe somebody’s not happy that you didn’t choose their idea or folks are more invested in some of some other ideas rather than the ones that are that are gaining more support. At one time or another, facilitators will encounter disruptive behaviors and you need to deal with them in order to stay on track and maintain trust and respect in the group. So six of the most common disruptive behaviors are: The Rambler. The person never getting to the point. What I call the “On and on’er.” The know it all. The person who is either the Dominator in the group, wants to talk all the time or, you know, wants to always be in front of the group making making all the statements. The Gun Slinger. Sometimes the gun slinger is in the back of the room making pot shots at leaders or other people in the room. The Whisperer. Always having those side conversations that are really detrimental and distracting to the group. Also the Side Tracker. Constantly getting the group off track. And then the Doubting Thomas, and I also call this the Negative Nan. It’s a person who will put down, you know, proposals that are raised. Oh, we’ve tried that before. We did that 20 years ago and it didn’t work. You know, that kind of perspective. But there are things you can do to handle these disruptive behaviors. For example, with the Rambler, you can ask questions and summarize that help curtail the Rambler. For example, you can say, hmm, let me see if I got the gist of what you said, and then summarize what they said and move on. The Dominator, the know it all. This is where the ground rules will really be helpful to you because this is about getting everybody’s involvement. Full participation from the group, not just one individual or two individuals. And nominal group technique can help with this as well. You want to have everyone have input. And let’s go to the Gun Slinger. Again, ground rules can help you maintain respect and involvement in the group. And the facilitator needs to call attention to this behavior immediately because the Gun Slinger can oftentimes say some things that will shut down a group and then once that happens, you know, the group isn’t willing to share. So you’ve got to keep it a safe place for people to share their diverse ideas. Whisperers: Have a ground rule about side conversations because side conversations detract and distract the rest of the group. So walk sometimes walking right over and standing next to the whisperers is all you need to do to encourage them to the stay focused on the group process. Side Trackers: Focusing on clear objectives, sometimes using a parking lot if somebody has a side topic that they think is important, check in with the group and say, Is this something that we need to talk about today? And if not, let’s put it in the parking lot and assign a time when that will be discussed. We don’t want to lose it, but we don’t want it to side track us either. And then, of course, Doubting Thomas or Negative Nans: Brainstorming, nominal group technique, are really good for that, and then does anyone one of the questions I like to ask is, Does anyone see this issue differently? Most times, you will come up with somebody in the group who says, Yes, you know, I see it this way. So it encourages somebody else to step in and say how differently they do see it. So, one of the things you want to do, though, hopefully, is prevent those disruptions before they occur. So, some of the things you can do when you’re preventing to prevent disruptions is encourage prior input to the agenda. We had talked about that when we covered the agenda, making sure everyone’s clear about what’s going to be talked about and what’s not going to be talked about. So it’s really important to have input to the agenda. Establish and use ground rules and keep in mind that using those ground rules that everyone in the group, everyone on the team in the room, is responsible for accountability for those ground rules; not just the facilitator. So you can find a fun way to help the team stay within the ground rules. Maybe there’s a I don’t know, a whistle or some word like “Garbanzo Beans” somebody can say when they notice that somebody’s standing outside of the ground rules. Choose processes that limit disruptions. It’s really important that if you’re finding that there’s lots of disruptions and people are having a lot of side conversations, maybe you want people to actually people are saying, Hey, we want to talk, we want to have a conversation about this topic. So put them into a situation where they can have that conversation. Maybe a mini World Cafe. Focus on outcomes. That’s the whole idea you’re there together is to work toward those outcomes, so you want to go back to that agenda and say, Okay, in order to work toward our outcomes we need to achieve, we need to have these conversations, we need to get to our agenda items, so how can we best do that? Be ready to provide constructive feedback. The role of the facilitator is to handle disruptions that come up so that the group can move forward in a safe productive manner. So, it’s really important that you keep in mind that every disruption needs to be handled, but also, remember that a disruption may not necessarily single signal that the group is off track. It’s you know, sometimes they’re trying to tell you something. Diagnose the situation and ask the group if this topic is what they need to talk about. Do they want to extend the meeting to address this particular topic? Let the group decide because it’s really their meeting. So negotiate with the group about time and what topics that come up might need to be addressed, and then ask yourself and the group: Is this situation or topic going to get us closer to our expected outcomes? Sometimes that question, you can quickly say yes or no.>>JOAN STROHAUER: So, now, let’s talk about ending the meeting on time. And such an important thing as I look at our time and we will say, if you have to go over, you ask the group’s permission. So we’re going to ask you to give us another minute or two. But what you want to do in terms of ending is summarize decisions and accomplishments, do the tasks, ensure the outcomes. Is there anything missing? Also, very importantly, is to plan follow up activities, such as who does what by when. And a bonus tip: If a group has some accomplishment along the way, let’s be sure to celebrate. Also, so important and frequently forgotten is to evaluate the meeting. Use some kind of evaluation form. We put one sample in the handouts, and if you didn’t receive them, just let us know and we’ll send them to you. Also, one of my favorites is the Delta/Plus, and this can be done either orally or written, and I like to put up a flip chart that says what went well and what are our opportunities for improvement, and have people brainstorm. Other times, I ask them to do it in a written format in case one has some confidentiality. But this then gives you some kind of feedback along the way of how you are doing. Also, in terms of follow up after the meeting, and what we want to do there, Gloria, I believe you had some thoughts.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Yes, and I’m just going to quickly move through: Expedite the preparation of the notes. And we had some ideas before: Encourage mutual accountability for the progress of the work, the decision making and the action items that you want to complete. And then evaluate the meeting yourself. What did you learn as a facilitative leader? How did the team interact? What should you do differently? Okay. This is just a really quick look at a sample meeting notes. It’s a grid with a question at the top and the answers to the questions are lined at the top the top row that indicate all of the ideas below reflect the top of the row. For example, open two way communication. Some of the ideas that surfaced: Just listen to others’ points of view and maintain open communication, et cetera. Okay, so are there any questions at this point?>>JOAN STROHAUER: Yes, we do. And one I think we may have covered some of them. One person says, “I noted that in some staff meetings, some people don’t contribute and sometimes the reason” I think it says, “because they feel left out or the topic doesn’t apply to them. And how do you make everyone feel like a contributing member?”>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Well, it’s really important that as part of the prevention that you invite the most pertinent people to the meeting. Now, sometimes staff meetings include just everyone, but contributing members, you can use the World Cafe so everyone have questions available that everyone can share input on. Joan, did you have any other ideas?>>JOAN STROHAUER: No, but I actually, in terms of having those ground rules always help.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Yes.>>JOAN STROHAUER: I see another question: “Sometimes people might be carrying a side conversation because they are shy and didn’t feel comfortable to raise their hand to speak in public, so they talk to their neighbors who in turn might bring the idea up for them. So if we stop them from having side conversation, the side participant’s ideas might never be heard. How do you feel about this situation?” Well, first of all, we have to encourage people to raise their hand, or if they are really, really shy, you may want to do the nominal group technique that gives them an opportunity. Or ask them to slip a note to their colleague. Gloria, do you have any other thoughts?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Yes, and actually this may address both questions, and that is, give the group half sheets of paper so that they can write down in brief sentences, no more than seven to nine words, their clear ideas, and then you can generate you know, gather together those ideas and read them so that the idea is not necessarily connected to the person, but it’s surfaced and shared with everyone. So they’re writing down their idea and giving it to you to share.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Okay. And here’s a great question: “In the age of digital harnesses, how do you address those who want to use their devices during the meeting after the meeting has already begun?” This is where your ground rules come in, and I know whenever I’m running a meeting, one of the first things I said is, Please turn off your cell phones or put it on vibrate and leave the room if you need to take a call. And as far as texting, sometimes people like to pretend that they are putting it down in their lap and they don’t think anyone can tell, so I would also address the issue of texting. Make it a ground rule.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: I totally agree, Joan. There’s nothing more destructive or distracting from a meeting as when folks are using their electronic resources.>>JOAN STROHAUER: And let’s see, I see someone said they didn’t think they got the handouts, and we will be happy to resend them out. And “How would you address a hostile member?” I think some of the things that we have said in terms of the ground rules and different things, but at one point you may need to address the person. And hostile can go many different ways. Most extreme I ever had to do was ask the person to leave. I did it quietly, and I called a break, and then said, you know, we we need to have a more productive meeting and I’d like to ask that you either listen and contribute or perhaps this isn’t the right meeting for you. Any thoughts on hostile members?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: I’m with you, Joan. It’s really important to take care of that in the moment. If it’s really hostile, then take a break, find out what the issue is, garner some support from your leader who called you there, and decide whether this is they’re bringing up an issue that needs to be handled in the group or whether it can be handled in another way. But you’ve got to address it right away.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Oh, and I love this question: “How do you address an issue when the senior management is dominating the meeting?” And you know what, I’m going to say some things here, is if you know they’re going to be in the room and you know their style, you might talk to them a little bit ahead. Say, Is it okay if I give you a time signal? And then I’m going to tell you, sometimes you just hear them out. It depends on the relationships, and it depends I know our manager, you could say, Hey, hey, it’s time. We need to move on. He’s, Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I would not do that with some of the people I have worked for. So it’s really a call. Gloria?>>GLORIA LINDSAY: I agree. And sometimes, as the facilitator, you have a special role to be able to say, you know, There’s some great ideas, leader, and I’m really interested in some of the thoughts from the rest of the group, and turn to the group and say, What about this side of the room, are there any thoughts or ideas on this side of the room about what was said? So, you want to encourage and invite other people to talk.>>JOAN STROHAUER: And one last question: “What is the best way to answer questions that you don’t have the answer to?” Very simply say, I don’t know right now; I will get some resources for you and get back to you just as quickly as I can.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: Yes, and use the group knowledge, the group wisdom. You’d be surprised. You might have the answer in the room somewhere.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Oh, great point, Gloria. So let’s take a look at a summary.>>GLORIA LINDSAY: All right. And develop we started out today developing facilitative values and skills, planning your meetings, having clear outcomes and a structured agenda, have group generated ground rules, and group agreed ground rules; use topics excuse me, use tools for generating input and handling those nasty disruptions; be clear on follow up activities who’s going to do what and by when so everybody’s clear and as soon as possible; and by all means, have fun. Part of the part of the process of working together is having fun generating some team work, and we learn a lot when we have fun.>>JOAN STROHAUER: Now, as far as some resources in case you want to learn more about this topic, California State Library has great free books and videos. They also have online books. We encourage you to go to their Safari books and just click on “facilitation.” You’re going to find all kinds of things. And certainly, if you go onto Google and do “facilitation,” you’ll get the same thing. And Gloria mentioned the monthly facilitator meeting. And also, Gloria has a wonderful list of facilitator resources that she’d be delighted to share with you, so let her know if you want more resources. And what we both would like to add, thank you so much for attending. Here is our contact information and please feel free to either call us or email us if there’s any way we can help you with your meetings. So, what I’d like to do is thank you so much for attending and you’ll be receiving an email with evaluation questions and a link to your certificate of completion within one to three days, and one of the things we want you to know is that Gloria has offered a book, Death by Meeting, and if you fill out the evaluation and return it, we are going to have a drawing in a few days, after we get the evaluations back, and whoever’s name we pull, you’re going to win the book and we’re going to mail it to you. So the recorded session and handouts will be posted to the Virtual Training Center, and the webinar is now over. Thank you so much. Thank you.

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