Me (Wendy): “ARGH!!! Bob!!! HELP!!!”
Bob: “Wendy, what’s wrong? Are you ok?”
Me: “Yes, I’m fine. But people are piling meetings onto our calendars again!! As we agreed, I’m trying to come up with working agreements with the teams of when to have a meeting (synchronous), when not to (asynchronous), and what questions to ask. However, I found an obstacle. People don’t know how to “facilitate” a meeting, synchronous or not. I think we need to teach people what remote facilitation is. Otherwise, they’ll all revert to piling meetings onto our calendars.”
Bob: “Oh! You’re right. People need that skill first, and they have to think about what happens before, during, and after the meeting. But, how do we want to go about doing this? If we try and tackle everything at once, people might get overloaded and tune things out. We’ll end up right where we started – more meetings on our calendar.”
Me: “IKR?! So, let’s make it simple for folks. Once they have identified the objective of the meeting, they can decide whether it can be async or not, or which part of the “meeting” can be async. People can list out the things that need to be done ahead of time, telling folks that if they do things ahead of time, they will have one less meeting on their calendar, like what we did with the company offsite fun activities. People need to understand that remote facilitation is not project management or beating people on the head about doing the items. I think we can model the behavior for people to learn. What do you think?”
Bob: “Oh, I like that – letting people learn by seeing how we do it ourselves.”
Me: “Exactly! We gave them explicit instructions on what they needed to do and a timeline of when we expected them to do it. We also gave examples of the things we wanted them to do asynchronously. Even if we weren’t there to direct them, we gave them enough simple information to do what we needed them to do. And we set up reminders and hints to ensure they do the necessary things in time, as well as the results if they didn’t.”
Bob: “Hey, why don’t we organize a facilitation training session? For the pre-work before the session, we ask them to think of ideas or questions they might have about the topic. This way, we’re already teaching them async facilitation tips before the training session. We’re letting them do the exact things we’re trying to get them to do in the first place. What do you think?”
Me: “Sure! How about we set up a board or a google doc and have them put in their thoughts ahead of time? We can then figure out the content of the actual session once we get the input from folks to make it more relevant and applicable for them.”
Make sure you come back next time and see how that facilitation training session goes.
In the meantime, you can see all the articles I’ve written on the subject on meetings.
Read the rest of Wendy’s story here:
- Part 1: Do we have to do video calls? Aren’t there better ways to do things?
- Part 2: What meetings can we get rid of? Aren’t there better ways to do things?
- Part 3: What other meetings can we remove? what else can we cut from our calendars?
- Part 4: Replacing meetings to gain more time on your calendar to be productive
- Part 5: How to recognize different meeting types to increase your productivity?
- Part 6: Evolve your meetings beyond agendas and action items to achieve better outcomes