I have been collecting great movie titles that reflect certain meeting environments. Great Expectations comes to mind for this blog because we, as meeting leaders, need to set expectations with our teams. We set expectations with our Actionable Objectives and our clarity around decision making methods. We can also set performance expectations for the group.
If you regularly use ground rules, good for you. You are in the minority. If you don’t have ground rules but want some, ask the group to help you establish some. Perhaps call them “Group Expectations.” (Some people feel that the term Ground Rules sounds a bit formal and dated.) Ask the group what their pet peeves are about meetings and what guidelines would they like to see everyone follow. Again, you are encouraging them to participate, not just sit back and have the expectations dictated to them by you.
You may decide to have guidelines about uses of technology (cell phones, laptops, iPads, etc.) You may also want to consider guidelines about participation if you have trouble with late comers or absenteeism. Finally, for those controversial discussions, consider guidelines for engaging in “difficult discussions.” Ideas to help you get started are listed below. Remember, have the group create as many of these as possible. You can fill in from these lists as needed.
Suggested Group Expectations (Ground Rules) for Meetings
- All cell phones on silent.
- If you must take a call, please exit the room.
- Text only briefly. Please wait until a break if possible.
- Handle emails on break.
- Keep laptops on program content. Handle other work during breaks.
- During extensive discussions, close laptops and/or turn off iPads to minimize distractions to others.
“Difficult Discussion” Suggestions:
- Everyone is invited to share his/her perspective.
- Respect differing opinions by not interrupting.
- Avoid finger-pointing. State your own experiences.
- Avoid saying “always” and “never” as these tend to exaggerate.
- Work toward solutions everyone can live with.
- Silence tends to be interpreted as agreement.
- Arrive on time.
- If you must miss a meeting, please alert the meeting leader. Make arrangements for someone to take your place.
- If you will be late, please alert the meeting leader.
- You are accountable to follow up on meetings missed, decisions made, and all action items assigned.
- Come prepared to all meetings by reading the agenda beforehand and reporting out on your actions items.
It is fair to have Great Expectations for your meetings. If we don’t, then we might find ourselves in Scream 1, 2, 3 and 4.