Inclusivity. It’s something that, quite rightly, we all strive for in life and work. Workplaces with inclusive cultures have happier employees and better diversity of thinking (which means more innovative, varied solutions and ideas). Positive work culture in which all voices are heard and welcomed is a wonderful thing; after all, nobody wants to end up like Basecamp, where a full third of the workforce quit in response to the management’s approach to diversity.
When it comes to meetings and workshops, I also believe that inclusivity is key, once everyone is in the room. Whilst it’s important to have someone in charge/facilitating so things stay on track, part of that meeting leadership role is to ensure that all voices are heard, nobody is constantly getting interrupted, and the event doesn’t just become a navel-gazing exercise for senior management.
However, time and time again we talk to clients who feel that meetings are taking over their lives. The first thing we do when we encounter this is talk to them about how to meet effectively, but often the bigger issue at play is that the work culture has evolved to a point of including absolutely everyone in every meeting. This is often a function of not wanting to offend anybody, but also of people wanting to cover their backs. The problem is, it ends up wasting a lot of time for a lot of people.
This time wasting happens in two ways. Firstly, people end up in meetings they don’t really need to be in. They end up half listening to the meeting, half working on something else; not the best recipe for focus by any means. Secondly, the meetings themselves end up being less effective. The more people at a gathering, the harder it is to manage, particularly as people often feel obliged to contribute an opinion, which can often lead to circular, unproductive conversations.
This is why, when it comes to choosing your meeting attendees, a little bit of exclusivity goes a long way. Below is a set of questions to help you pick attendees for any meeting or workshop wisely.
Do you have the right balance of decision-makers and doers?
Are you inviting anyone just to keep them informed?
Have you invited people who you “just feel should be there”?
If you’re worried about offending anyone, give them the option of attending but also let them know that you respect their time and will let them know the outcome of the meeting. They might choose to come, but most people will be grateful for the time to actually get their work done.
These rules also apply when you get invited to a meeting; if it’s not clear why you need to be there, you should ask the organiser. If they can’t give you a good reason, ask if they can update you afterwards instead.
If you want more actionable advice on working effectively as a team, book a call.