This afternoon I had an opportunity to catch up with a board member I used to serve with. He was lamenting that there are always a couple of people in the organization who are stuck on “replay”, always bringing up some past transgression that’s long done. They’re the same people who are unwilling to try anything new, or examine their own part in any so-called failures.
Does this sound familiar? Do you have team members who would rather grouse about what didn’t work in the past, than to try and discover a better way forward? Ultimately, these individuals aren’t helping the team. It’s worth having a quiet conversation offline, to remind them in advance of the next meeting, that you’re focused on the future. Here are some other ways to prime them for the right kind of action:
- Ask them to describe in writing the most persistent problem that exists today – and to list five or ten possible solutions. Share their most positive ideas with the team, so they feel acknowledged. You want to reinforce the behaviour you’re working to create.
- At the meeting, ask them to be a note-taker and reporter for the group. This may not stop them from airing their grievances, but it will make them listen more carefully to people who are expressing more positive opinions – and positivity can be contagious.
- Acknowledge that problems do occur, and engage them in telling a story of what kinds of solutions have made positive improvements in other situations. Then ask them to describe how similar approaches might be used here.
If you’ve given your best effort to be sure their voice is heard, you’ve done your work. Keep repeating your mission and make sure the meeting ground rules are clear. And if necessary, find a project that will consume their time elsewhere. Then, eyes forward. Face the future, and plot your course.
I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners and Founders here at PANOPTIKA. We help our clients see everything they need to know to make better decisions for their organizations. Looking for a facilitator who can help you have richer, more robust conversations? Let’s talk. In the meantime, you can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn – or you can sign up to get useful business ideas sent right to your inbox, using the handy button below.