I was asked by a client recently to facilitate a planning meeting for a project that had a looming deadline. The team had consumed many months of potential planning time lost in their direction and not making progress.
Their dilemma was typical of many teams and organisations I help that start with a great idea and are never quite clear on what steps to take. They don’t nut out who is going to be responsible for each component and what success really looks like.
A model that I see playing out constantly in small and large organisations alike is Bruce Tuckman’s theory of team development. He advocates there is a natural progress to teams coming together through the phases of ‘Forming’, ‘Storming’ and ‘Norming’ before they start ‘Performing’.
One of the biggest areas of grey that also needs to be explored by managers and leaders, even for the smallest of projects, is the idea that everyone comes to the table with different expectations or needs.
I always start each facilitation process with my own planning process. There are some key steps that you should follow with any initiative that requires you to bring people together to achieve a common goal.
Planning is the key. Begin with knowing what the team want or expect to achieve, who are the main players and what are the potential roadblocks. Ensure the right people are at the meeting.
Know what success looks like. If you can’t explain or articulate what the desired outcome is then you can’t expect others to be able to follow or achieve. This includes a clear overall vision for the team and the individuals along with the benefits of reaching that goal.
Clearly setting out roles and your expectations. Clarity of what each member is expected to achieve and the part they play in the bigger picture is crucial.
Listen to all the voices. We quite often dismiss or fail to take notice of the silent types, lateral thinkers or the nay-sayers. These participants often contribute to critical thinking.
Make people accountable. Never leave a meeting or planning session without actions, timelines or responsibilities allocated.