Opportunities of online meetings

Posted on May 11, 2020 in Communication,Conflict Resolution,Hot Topics . 0 Comments.

Key Points:

  • Online meetings have led to lots of changes
  • Two positive opportunities are:
    • The chance for individuals to redefine the role they play with the team
    • The elevation of female voices within the team

Our clients are reporting lots of changes to behaviours and perceptions as their meetings move online. In this blog we discuss two positive opportunities that we think are of particular interest…

The role we play in a team. Is it set? Does this present an opportunity to change?
In formed groups, individual members play roles. When these are set we tend to stick to them. Just as in families where there is the sibling who “takes charge”, the one who is the “clown” and let’s not forget there’s always “the one who gets away with everything”.

Often teams take on these sorts of dynamics where people “play their role”. In some cases, online meetings are making these roles overt. The good news is if the role isn’t working for an individual or a team, there is a great opportunity to raise it, own it and change it.

Sam is a client I conflict coach. He feels that he has always been perceived as the “little brother” and the jokester of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Whilst this made him popular, it had diminished his internal brand as a respected voice within the team. To change the “role” there usually needs to be a seismic event coupled with conscious actions.

Under COVID19 arrangements SLT meetings have gone online. This has presented Sam with a wonderful opportunity to break the dynamic and forge a new perception of himself amongst his peers. The change in the format of the meetings has reduced the opportunity for funny, side jokes and has given him the opportunity to have ALL of the SLT listen to him speak, uninterrupted! There are also a range of more ‘real world’ changes that Sam is looking to make, however, it is the online team meetings that presented him with an invaluable opportunity to just be different.

Elevating Female Voice
The lack of opportunity for female voices to be heard in workplace meetings is a well-known and studied phenomenon in the modern workplace. [Ground breaking BYU research shows what it takes for a woman to truly be heard].The problem usually falls into one of three issues (though often all of these are at play):

  • Routinely being interrupted
  • Unequal talking time
  • Limited influence

We have been asked to facilitate several team meetings and online group discussions. What we have noticed is that online meetings have presented a real opportunity to remedy this situation. Well-run online meetings have presented the chance to increase workplace democracy and broaden participation.

As we all know, online meetings can only ever have one person speaking at a time. This has necessitated that people become better listeners. When someone interrupts during an online meeting, it is far more obvious and clearly deliberate, considering they have to actively come off mute – they can’t just blurt something out! This is usually perceived extremely negatively by the rest of the group.

Time has become far more scrutinised in online team meetings. How it is allocated has also become significantly more transparent. The opportunity to provide all team members with a more even platform has given Team Leaders and Managers a greater chance to provide more equal speaking opportunities to contribute. Of course, if this is not happening, then it is becoming even more obvious than it was before!

We are interested to hear what changes in Team behaviour you are observing now that your Team Meetings are moving to online. Let us know…

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