January 15, 2007

Good day, team,

It’s always interesting to see what happens when people with different agendas, opinions and viewpoints get into a room and try to agree on what should be done and how to do it. Often, there’s general consensus about what needs to be done in the long term. The greater differences lie in how the work should get done in the short term. We all have strong ideas about how to do things, and these ideas show up in meetings where teams are trying to create a roadmap for moving forward.
This process reminds me of occasions when I fought with my older sister over which one of us would do something. For example, if one of us got a present for Christmas that required assembly, we would both grab the item and then fight over who knew best how to put it together. Or our parents might ask one of us to do something, and the other would jump up and say, “I’ll do it!” It seems that it’s a challenge for all of us to allow someone else to figure something out, when we’re convinced we know how to do it better and can just get it done in alot less time. I know this is one of the greatest challenges of management… allowing your people to take the time to fully understand and do something that would only take you minutes to complete. Envy, competitiveness and stubbornness are just of few of the emotions we experience in these situations.

The same emotions overtake us in meetings when we’re convinced that our solution is the best, and we fight to convince everyone else to go along. Of course, if lots of people in the meeting feel they have the best answer, it becomes less a meeting than a fencing match, an opportunity to “thrust and parry.” In the heat of battle, the strategies for winning an argument can overtake the topic itself, and the possibility of reaching consensus may disappear.

This week, when you attend a meeting where a decision must be made, try considering how you can participate in a way that’s best for the team, rather than best or most gratifying for you. If the intention is to reach consensus, perhaps your best course of action is no action at all. Although you may be tempted to make your point or defend your position, these actions might take the team further away from consensus. Try to attend a meeting intent on supporting someone else’s ideas. Or try not saying anything when you feel as though your idea is the best solution for the team.
Have a great week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

(c) copyright 2007 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.

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