A note relating to this unique time in our professional lives:
Meetings are undoubtedly one of the most commonly maligned aspects of work life, yet during this time of enormous numbers of us working from home to maintain critical physical distancing, many are newly recognizing the real value of face-to-face interaction with team members. It’s not just the extroverts among us who are missing in-person workplace conversations—nearly everyone who ordinarily reports to an office is feeling some degree of challenge with staying informed, motivated and productive.
Many conversations right now are addressing a big question: “What will we learn from this time of physical isolation, and how can we be better when life once again normalizes?”
How we meet and the way we can intentionally use our time together to inspire thought and innovation is a great starting point.
This blog is from our archives, yet its brief message is very timely as we consider how we are functioning now and where we want to improve in the future.
Stay well, friends!
Yes, I said it. Meetings, the anathema of business people worldwide, might actually be useful; even crucial in a complex world. “How so?”, you ask with prodigious skepticism.
A meeting, if done well, should simply be a conversation. Conversation builds empathy. Empathy opens up our ability to be curious and seek multiple perspectives. Being curious and taking multiple perspectives is fundamental to grappling successfully with complexity – situations where cause and effect are not clear and where there are no right answers. And much of the work we do as leaders today is complex.
It can be really enticing to leverage all of the technology at our disposal – email, text, instant messaging to name a few – in order to communicate in a business setting. Those tools and more all have a place but to assume they can replace conversation is a wrongheaded assumption. While there are more mediums than just the meeting as a means to engage in rich dialogue, the meeting has tremendous potential for learning from multiple perspectives.
So, what gets in the way? Well, we all know those barriers too well: meetings that have no agenda, include the wrong folks, are more about sharing information than learning from one another. If instead we committed to making meetings a place where dialogue burgeoned, we might start to view meetings as the most rewarding times of our day. Try a small experiment at the next meeting you facilitate. Aim to ask curious questions, to seek out the diverse perspectives around the table, and most importantly think about what you might learn about the topic at hand, your team, and yourself.
Jeremiah A. Palmer
Guest Contributor for Milestone Leadership