I have managed and led several virtual teams over the last 10 years and it always seems like a struggle to get the same type of active participation and healthy productive conflict you get with face to face teams. Such passivity in meetings often results in delayed decisions, the re-hashing of the same issues every meeting and less than ideal results.
Here are a few things I have learned over the years that may help increase participation in your virtual team meetings. If you have others, we would love to hear them. Or if you have experience with any of the ideas listed below, please comment.
1. Create virtual meeting norms. Creating a set of norms that the team can agree to around participation and behavior during the meetings reminds everyone what is expected. You only need four to five items, anymore than that is too much. Start off by brainstorming as many ideas as the team can come up with. Then group common ideas. Next, ask what one item is the most critical for your team to observe during meetings? Allow for lots of discussion until you have narrowed the list down to the final four to five items.
2. Before the meeting starts send out an agenda and your expectations in regards to participation for each agenda item. Making expectations clear is a basic communication principle.
3. Mine for participation. Healthy productive conflict and task centric discussion has to be a part of every meeting. People don't always feel comfortable with stating how they really feel about agenda items, ideas and issues. It is very easy to hide behind a phone line and/or computer. When a participant has become passive it is necessary for the meeting leader to draw him or her in. This requires the leader ask passive participants to weigh in and to dig further if necessary by following up with questions.
The fact is virtual teams and meetings will not be going away any time soon. Leaders must be willing to adapt. Failing to do so will result in negative outcomes.
Do you want other helpful tips on meetings? Click on the below post.
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