Stumped! What to Do When a Meeting Agenda is Derailed?
Written by Renée Safrata - firstname.lastname@example.org, February 02nd, 2012
So many corporate teams are raddled by strained resources, frequent deadlines and multi-tasking. I am working with a few clients in exactly this position. In one case, the CEO still manages to schedule regular management meetings. This is a good thing for reviewing progress, learning new team competencies and if need be, recalibrating objectives for better results. The not-so-good part is that because they are only monthly, the meeting agendas are generally so chock-a-block that there is little time to ‘renew and connect’.
Recently, this team acquired a new member. Let’s call her Georgina. She has great power and influence and a strong willingness to participate. She will be instrumental in helping to promote the company’s vision of the future. She has also achieved great results before, literally rebounding from the depths of bankruptcy. The CEO and the team recognize her potential for helping them all achieve better results this year.
My role on this team is, as usual, “meeting fairy” instilling the importance of team norms.. My responsibility is to provide an equal and open forum and make sure that all agenda items receive adequate coverage.
I now face a new challenge with Georgina in these brisk meetings. I have noticed among her talents one incredible skill: she can speak for up to 90 minutes without a single break – I kid you not! As an experienced meeting fairy, I am extremely skilled at jumping in with force after a breath or slight pause to move the conversation on. But, wow, with Georgina I fear I have met my match!
So what am I to do about this powerful, authoritative and influential person who dominates the forum? What do you need to do when all participants of a meeting buy-in and agree to the norms except one rebel?
This problem illustrates one very basic rule of thumb: get all new members to buy in to the team norms for meeting participation. I must make this the key issue.
I have decided to meet one-to-one with Georgina in order to do three things:
- Bring forward the team norms.
- Be transparent about my inability to fulfill my meeting fairy responsibilities with her monologue behavior.
- Negotiate a solution for future meetings with her input.
Have you ever met a Georgina in one of your meetings? If so, what did you do?
Next week I will post the outcome of my conversation with Georgina – come back to find out what happened!