Recently a colleague of ours, a senior manager in a volunteer organization, was lamenting that he was spending so much time in meetings. Why does it take so long to get decisions made in these heart-and-mind-based communities? The shortest answer is this: when people get involved because something holds emotional or spiritual importance for them, every decision becomes an important decision. The same thing can happen in a regular business, as well. When you motivate your team so well that the consequences of their actions become personally important, it’s great, right? They’ll work extra hard to make things happen! But the downside of this is that they will also be incredibly invested in making sure the associated decisions go their way. If they have all the responsibility, but none of the authority, trouble is sure to ensue. So how do you manage to keep things moving forward? These three key steps can help make sure your team meetings don’t have to keep covering the same old ground:
1. Listen carefully for covert messages. If explanation of a new activity or tactic is leading to multiple discussions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the team doesn’t comprehend what you want, or is indecisive. It can also mean, “We don’t want to do that, but we don’t want to let you down, either”.
2. Leave time for emotion to be part of the equation. After all, emotion is what got the team so bought-in to your agenda in the first place. When we try and separate it out and rely solely on the rational arguments for things, it can backfire and make colleagues think that their feelings aren’t important.
3. Trust your team to do what’s right. It’s fine to set objectives. But spirit-based team members need to feel like they have done everything in their power to produce the desired outcome, and sometimes that means letting them do things their own way, even if it isn’t the way you would do it yourself.
Making time for sense and sensitivity,
Megann and Steve