In this free-flowing discussion, with various topics merging with each other as the evening progressed, the subjects we covered were as follows. As this is likely to be read by people who’ve not yet joined the group, no personal or business names are given.
TOPIC 1 – MANAGING TEAMS.
One member described that in the early stages of their business, there was such chaos, tension and conflict between members of the team running it that they were at the point of giving up. This lead to a discussion on some basic principles of Team Working/Management and Communication (see Topic 2) as follows. What held the business together was the common vision, which demonstrates how vitally important shared/common aspirations are.
Identification of a primary purpose – what is the purpose of the team and its visions and what does it need to achieve? These factors are at the root of team cohesion and the need for each member to:
- Focus on what their role is in achieving the aims of the team and;
Support their colleagues in other roles.
It is the leader’s role to propose and seek consensus on these aspects – if not, chaos reigns.
- In achieving common goals, there needs to be an absence of personal agendas, egotistical thinking, conflict. Difference of any kind, gender, ethnic, personal backgrounds etc must be accepted. Each member needs to know their role, responsibilities and the limits of their involvement.
- Budgetary control. Clear guidelines on how much can be spent, who can spend it, on what and for what purpose.
- Taking responsibility – What happens if someone is anxious or unwilling to act in a responsible role or, in having been given a role, shows a reluctance to take the responsibility associated with it. What happens if someone does not take responsibility for mistakes?
- Being a leader doesn’t mean he or she is right or that they have a monopoly on good ideas – Leadership involves taking constructive criticism, admittance of mistakes and misunderstandings and acknowledging that good ideas can come from anyone.
- Decision-making, democracy and voting rights.
TOPIC 2 – COMMUNICATION
We discussed the factors that affect good communication and the Active Listening skills that can be employed.
- Seeking clarity in communication – have we really understood what someone has said or written and how do we check – have we been clear in our communications with others and how do we check? We discussed concepts such as:
- Paraphrasing, where we feedback to the speaker in our own words what our understanding has been or, if we are the speaker, asking the respondent to provide their understanding. Intervening if it’s clear we’ve not been understood.
- “Unpacking” what lies behind a comment or statement, eg: “Everything’s going really well” – Unpacking means saying something like “In what way is it going well?”.
- We talked about how easy it is to accept a statement or comment without really knowing what lies behind it and therefore not being able to get the whole sense of what’s being communicated.
- Exploration and clarity of situations, ideas and actions – achieving in-depth understanding of issues and how best to move forward.
- Periodic Summarising – a clear resumé of the conversation/discussion at various stages to confirm understanding up to that point.
- Dealing with avoidance and wandering away from the subject matter – focussing on what needs to be discussed, agreed upon, resolved etc.
- The need for respect and dignity – providing a safe place for people to speak openly without fear of being attacked, belittled or dismissed.
TOPIC 3 – HOLDING MEETINGS – BEING RESPONSIBLE TO A BOARD
- The relationships between CEO’s and Managers with their Boards or Governing Committees.
- The delegated responsibilities – how much decision-making freedom is there?
- “Up-Managing” “difficult” Board/Committee Members.
- Anticipating issues likely to be raised and being prepared to deal with them.
- Setting out the purpose of a meeting – Agendas etc are implicit but also there’s the principle of “Topping and Tailing” for any form of meeting, and indeed for presentations, seminars etc. That is:
- At the start:
- Clarifying what is to be discussed/presented
- The purpose.
- Desired outcome(s).
- At the close:
- Summarise key points – What’s been covered in accordance with what was stated at the start.
- Summarise what has been agreed/not agreed – All outcomes and agreed actions.
- Voting procedure (if appropriate) and clarity of any motion that needs to be voted upon.