It’s not always the responsibility of the manager to run a successful meeting. Lead the meeting with questions in order to avoid monotony and tap into each person’s experience, knowledge, collaboration and creativity so that you can create breakthrough results.
Lead with Questions, Not Answers
Weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings can get stale quickly. It also puts unnecessary pressure on the manager to find a way to keep the meetings engaging and valuable. Instead of believing that it is solely the responsibility of the manager to run a successful meeting, lead the meeting with questions in order to tap into each person’s experience, knowledge, collaboration and creativity. Fostering healthy, open and rich meeting experience can only occur when the manager steps down off of their soapbox and connected with everyone else on an even playing ground.
It will be the questions you use that will empower your team to open up and share their ideas, opinions and solutions. Please note that these questions, for the most part, are organic. That is, they are in no particular order. Use the ones that you feel would work best for the type of meeting that you are facilitating.
Of course, there are always going to be those meetings where the manager must drive a specific agenda. However, I’d challenge you to consider that about 70% of the meetings can be a mutual collaboration, where the agenda is mutually agreed upon and then driven your team. Besides, think about how much time this would save for any manager.
If you find yourself banging your head against the desk, trying to design an effective meeting and agenda, chances are you’re asking the wrong person for the answer. Instead, empower your people to do so. Here are 17 questions that top leaders use to transform meetings from worthless to worthwhile.
17 Facilitation Questions that Inspire Collaborative, Worthwhile Meetings
- If we were to design this meeting together, what would you like to see covered and how would you facilitate it?
- What would it look like when we get to the other side of your objective? What’s the ideal result you’re looking for?
- Who is open to supporting the team by starting this discussion and sharing some ideas to stimulate our conversation?
- Thanks, let’s keep building on that. Who’s the next person to share some ideas or thoughts around this?
- What is another way of looking at this?
- That’s a great idea. Who has a different opinion around what we’ve been discussing so far?
- That’s interesting. What else can be true?
- I certainly have my opinion around this, and I’m happy to share it. However, before I do, I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts first, since in many ways, you’re closer to this situation than I am and I trust you and your judgement around this. Who’s the next person to share some additional thoughts or reactions around what we’ve been discussing?
- What assumptions might we be making around this issue?
- What are the facts that support this opinion/assumption? How do you know that this is the absolute truth?
- How can we look at this in a way that would change our thinking for the better?
- Thanks for sharing your opinion, I really appreciate it. Let’s walk through our solution and approach together to ensure it will achieve the results we want.
- What would be possible if we were able to achieve these results?
- What concerns, if any, do you have at this point?
- What best practices or activities have we identified that we can further refine to continually better our best?
- Let’s spend the last few minutes summarizing the meeting, what our next steps are and any deadlines associated with what we’ve discussed, so that we’re all clear and aligned around what each of us need to do from here.
- How are you feeling about what we discussed and achieved today? Let’s go around the room and hear from each of you. What did you find most valuable about this meeting?
Finally, the best coaches, leaders and facilitators always seek to understand other people’s point of view before theirs. Otherwise, once the manager shares their opinion, you run the risk of shutting down the rest of the meeting.
Start authentically facilitating meetings by making the inner-shift and commitment to become someone who is an effective facilitator, rather than a soapbox manager who tells people what to do. The byproduct is, you honor the definition of coaching; the art of creating new possibilities. Otherwise, you’re simply driving your own stale and often redundant agenda.
If you’re looking to take the first step to achieving this, here it is. Take out a hammer and destroy our soapbox. You no longer have any use for it.