I was asked to sit in on a religious committee meeting yesterday. As I sat listening to the various disagreements between the members, I noticed that the action items and needs vital for a happy congregation are not that much different than the requirements of today’s businesses.
While I have served on several committees, I have not served on this particular committee before. I was surprised at the different way this cleric had to handle this group compared to other groups. While both groups are comprised of volunteers, this committee seemed to be more volatile.
Let me give you a list of characters from this group (aliases). Rich is a fast mover; a “change it now” type of person, while Frank is a traditionalist and feels the tried and proven ways are good enough. Dave is the resident expert; well-read, but young and inexperienced. He has a ready answer to any question. Ryan is ultra -liberal and controversial. More importantly, he enjoys being out there. Joanne is the “when I was at… we did it…” Leslie is quick to pass judgment even before all the facts are on the table. Joe appears to be a stoic, but actually is very interested. The problem is he only voices his opinion only to those he trusts and not necessarily in the meeting. Cindy is very knowledgeable but quiet. She often feels others don’t respect her opinions and therefore frequently has her feeling hurt. Karen is willing to bring her agendas to the table, even when the group is talking about other issues. Do any of these people resemble members of your team?
Tips to Getting Started
You, like our leader, probably see many opportunities that would make the organization more effective in satisfying the needs of those involved. Unfortunately, you need to get all these personalities to effectively function together in order to seize opportunities.
The following tips will help you maintain sanity in working with your group.
- First and foremost, don’t take the group’s behavior personally. It isn’t you, but the topic that may be frustrating.
- Set the agenda and stick to it. Let the participants know what topics will be discussed and how long you expect the meeting to last. Members will appreciate this courtesy. Also, it alleviates unexpected departures. If someone becomes long-winded, remind them of the group’s time limits.
- Set ground rules. This may seem unnecessary, but you would be surprised how a simple set of rules can set the tone for discussion. For example; CMOE’s meeting rules include:
- No side conversations
- Actively participate
- Avoid becoming defensive
- Be positive
- Focus on the topic
- Avoid stories
- Finally, don’t get discouraged, stay up-beat and confident that the group will come to a consensus resolution, one that each member can commit to.Notice that these tips center on the situation or topics, not personalities or abstract agendas. It demands that respect for each other is maintained. Remember though, these tips are no means a guarantee of perfection. They serve only as a great starting point.
Notice that these tips center on the situation or topics, not personalities or abstract agendas. It demands that respect for each other is maintained. Remember though, these tips are no means a guarantee of perfection. They serve only as a great starting point.