Dealing with team members who are off-track
The Tuesday Reading today is "Dealing with Team Members who are 'Off-Track'," and comes from Roger Schwarz, President of Roger Schwarz & Associates, a consulting company focusing on team development.
We've all been in and led team meetings that have completely gotten off track. Usually it happens when one of the meeting participants takes off on a path not on the agenda (if there is an agenda). The leader, hopefully, tries to rein in the topic and too often the offender continues becoming more frustrated at each effort at being reined in.
So, as leader of the meeting, what do you do? Schwarz suggests three steps:
Have an agenda that sets out the purpose of the meeting. If everyone comes to the meeting with a different agenda in mind, then a train-wreck in almost inevitable. So, as the last item on a recurring meeting's agenda, talk about the agenda for the next meeting. Get buy-in. And, circulate the agenda in sufficient time before the meeting that participants can provide comment about the agenda and prepare for the discussions and decisions that will be made. If the meeting is a "one-of" meeting, circulate an agenda, ask for comments, provide materials for preparation, etc.
Finishing one topic and moving to the next. Be sure to close out a topic - ideally by reconfirming the decision and/or next steps (and the what, who, and by when) before introducing the next idem. Providing everyone with clear signals at to where the meeting is really helps keep it on track.
Deal with those who are "off-track." Inquire as to how their topic relates to the one we're discussing. If it does, then everyone learns. If it is not, then defer it to the end of the meeting if there is time on the agenda for "matters-arising" or to a subsequent meeting. Make an opportunity to discuss repeat-offences one-on-one with the offender outside the meeting.
Meetings consume a large number of hours in each of our days. Consider using these suggestions to make them more effective and efficient. You can begin with your next meeting.
. . . . jim