Four Strategies for Improving Team Dynamics at Your Next Meeting

This is the second installment in a two-part series. Read part one by clicking here.

In part one of this series, we discussed how in our newly emerging era of human-centered management, there are competing opinions regarding effective use of meeting time. But with hybrid work environments, effective meeting techniques become more important. That is, how to effectively engage members of the team so that every exchange is productive. 

Earlier, I introduced present-moment awareness and recognizing the positive as our first two strategies. The third technique is judgment-free discourse. This requires cultivating the ability to listen without criticizing or interrupting before you’ve heard someone’s full response. It’s not easy. It takes discipline. But it pays off. This is a common technique among innovators, a practice borrowed from the craft of improvisational performance.

When you combine it with present-moment awareness and recognizing the positive, it has a powerful effect on team member trust and cohesion. It doesn’t mean you agree with the idea, and you may hold a diametrically opposed position. But allow the idea to exist while presenting your point of view. That means avoiding phrases like “no,” “you’re wrong,” “that’s stupid,” or “what are you thinking?” and the list goes on. 

Instead, you might say, “I understand your point that … Let me present another perspective. …” Using this method means pivoting to a new point of view without disrupting the momentum of the discussion. In the simplest terms, it’s using “yes, and” rather than “no, but.”

The fourth technique I’d like to offer today is create your own rules of engagement. Some call it a team charter. Every team has a unique culture. In working with our clients, we employ the Axiometrics version of the Hartman Value Profile to map the thinking-style culture of the team. After twenty-seven years using this tool, I continue to be amazed at how accurately it reveals the decision-making approaches of team members. The resulting team map reveals the strengths, tendencies, and areas of development for the team. Sharing this map with the team helps them see themselves clearly and provides approaches for engaging one another productively.  

Whether or not you avail yourself of this tool, creating a team charter starts with identifying your team’s core values. Core values capture the beliefs in which in which a team is rooted and the norms that guide its behaviors. Through a clear understanding of its core values, a team can create enthusiasm, deepen morale, and intentionally manage its culture. 

Once you understand your team’s core values, convene a session to discuss how team members live up to those values in the way they treat one another and how they conduct themselves. One client told me that their charter has had a huge impact upon team meetings. He said that whenever things get off track or someone is behaving badly, someone from among the team will just say “charter,” and things quickly get back on track.

The common thread woven into each of these techniques is that anyone can learn and practice them. They aren’t complicated. As with any strengthening exercise, the key to success is discipline and accountability. Discover more about how I convene and counsel executives on team building and conflict resolution by visiting my client success stories or by learning more in my latest book, Onboarding Champions

AUTHOR - James Mueller

Jim Mueller is president of James Mueller & Associates LLC (JMA), a national consulting firm that provides services in the areas of organizational development, governance, and philanthropy. Follow Jim on LinkedIn.