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Shared values

Good Group Tips

In principle, values are those things most important to us, the things we value. For most people, they are ideals, beliefs, rules to live by. We are generally drawn to people who share our values. At the core of every defined group of people are shared values.

Practical Tip: Discuss values as a group and make a written, short, agreed-to list of the values you have in common. Simply having a discussion about values helps us understand each other. Deciding which values we share defines our group and helps people decide if they want to join the group and it also helps people decide to leave. A written list of shared values also serves as a code of ethics, a place to turn for guidance when the decision making gets tough.

Shared values are the steadfast ground on which we stand when things are in turmoil.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Good Meeting Guidelines

Does your group have Meeting Guidelines? Should you?

Meeting at The Nature Conservancy, Craig noticed the “Good Meeting Guidelines” posted on the wall. He needed to learn more!

So in this on-the-spot video Craig interviewed TNC’s Maine State Director Kate Dempsey about why and how they use the Good Meeting Guidelines.

What a great idea! Decide your meeting guidelines, post them in your meeting room, and actually practice them!

By the way. No rehearsals. No second takes. No editing. Kate didn’t even know what Craig was going to ask her. She did a terrific job.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Craig: Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley and I’m here with Kate Dempsey. Kate is the director of the Nature Conservancy headquartered right here in Brunswick, Maine. I have been meeting with Kate and some of her staff and I couldn’t help but notice these Good Meeting Guidelines that they keep right here  in their meeting room. And I presume you use these?

Kate: We try to keep them actively in front of us and in our brains at all times.

Craig: So how was it that you decided to even do this and come up with these particular guidelines? Can you tell us a little about that?

Kate: Yeah. We’re an organization that actually spends a lot of time in meetings with partners and amongst ourselves. So over time we figured out that we really needed some guidance for ourselves about how to be active participants in meetings; how to make sure we’re hearing a diversity of opinion, even if it’s the same group of people that always meet together. Years and years of practice, in theory, means we are a little better than we would be if we didn’t practice. And I think it really does help because we have a lot of people coming through this office; we meet with a lot of partners and other partners use this space. So it helps share the learning and remind others that this is the culture we’re trying to create.

Craig: I love that; that it’s not just for you but for all the people that come through here. So do you have a practice of reviewing these and talking about them at the start of most of your meetings?

Kate: It’s funny we were just talking about how we needed to re-practice doing that. We’ve had a lot of new people come on to our team and — really in the last year — a huge amount of influx of new energy and new people. So I was just meeting with my director of operations and we were just saying how we really need to think of ways to make sure we are doing just that.

Kate: We are very good about being really clear about meeting purposes. We’re reminding ourselves about what the decision process is in any given situation and who’s making decisions and what input that group is seeking. And I think respecting the clock, we’re actually quite good at. Always reminding ourselves but I think we are very good at that.

Kate: And then I think that being open minded and listening honestly and having inquiring mindsets – what’s good about having this up front is that it allows someone to respectfully remind someone that maybe they’re jumping to a conclusion without seeking first understanding. So it’s a nice way of being able to practice together without anyone feeling badly if you question them.

Craig: Right, I love that. So many good reasons that you just pointed out for having ground rules.

Craig: If you are in a group that meets regularly, maybe even in the same room, you might consider investing in some Good Meeting Guidelines like The Nature Conservancy has. Thanks for explaining this to us.

Kate: Thanks Craig for being here.

Craig: Thanks for listening everybody.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Plan, meet, write-up

Good Group Tips

In principle, the three fundamental steps that help make a meeting great are:

1. Plan what you are going to meet about,

2. Actually meet according to the plan, and,

3. Write up the meeting results.

Practical tip: Prior to an upcoming meeting, the meeting facilitator (or whoever is going to run the meeting) and group leaders should huddle and get clear on the meeting objectives, agenda, roles, how it will be recorded, and logistics such as advance notices, space, food, nametags, etc. Talk it through and plan out how each part of the meeting will work. Advance planning increases chances that you will have on hand the things you need for the meeting to go well and sharing the plan in advance increases chances that participants will come prepared and that their expectations will be on target.

Then, run the meeting according to plan, although always prepared to be flexible and responsive to things unplanned. Meeting according to plan provides security for participants. After, provide participants with a write up that is more than a simple, chronological transcript. Organize the thoughts and stories shared, name the themes discussed, and format the write-up so it is pleasant to read and easy to refer to later. In the write-up you can provide a logical organizational structure even if things seemed quite confusing during the actual meeting.

Don’t skimp on the pre-planning or the post-write up. These are the two things that often distinguish a great meeting from a mediocre meeting.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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