Want to improve Team Meetings-Learn these 3 Principles of Group Dynamics

“The basic principle of effective team dynamics is for the facilitator to promote the feeling that every human being is equal, unique and adds value for accomplishing the team’s goals.”  M.W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

Three critical success factors of Group Dynamics

  1. Inclusion
  2. Control
  3. Openness

Inclusion- “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Dr.Stephen Covey 

Everyone wants to feel welcomed and part of the team. Since  your team meeting is a social and interpersonal interaction establishing early and strong connections with your members is critical for creating a positive climate. Begin to establish strong rapport before meeting begins.  One way I have found that is helpful is to welcome everyone with a one-on-one contact and check how their day has gone.Try asking questions such as, What are they ready to discuss? Are they preoccupied or cleared to go? Do they need time to re-focus before taking up the agenda?  As the meeting proceeds try to include and get comments from everyone around the table or on the phone. I find using the “go around” tool helpful in getting everyone involved from the beginning of the meeting.

Control–In the beginning, the designated leader is seen as the conductor of the orchestra. It is imperative that you accept this role. You can accomplish this by setting direction and structure for the meeting. Providing a clear road map for the meeting solves the issue of formal leadership for the the group.  In other words, inform members in a clear and concise way what the purpose and objectives are for the meeting and then check to see if this meets their expectations or do they have new items to ad to the agenda.  This practice involves and engages group members.  Also, acknowledge their experience and expertise. Request their input and contributions. Focus on learning from each other not just sitting and listening to the formal leader pontificate. Give the team choices on how to proceed and reminding them of the “ground rules” for interacting for having an effective and worthwhile conversation. Encourage challenges and request from the group in order to facilitate shared leadership and learning.

Openness–Is all about being non-defensive and authentic in responding to group members. As the group leader you need to model for members directness, caring and assertive style. You need to practice active listening using the power of clarifying points of view, paraphrasing to show understanding, and responding in a leveling and constructive manner that leads to more engagement and interaction. If members feel you are not leveling it will lead to fragmentation and divisiveness in the conversation. You must challenge the group to use their imagination and problem solving skills when discussing case studies and simulation activities. By being open you will teach the group to trust and work together in learning to solve problems and discover new ways to do things.

Next time you facilitate a meeting keep these principles in mind and I promise less frustration and more success in accomplishing the team’s goals.

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