Watch and Learn

Uncategorized Oct 23, 2020

When I work with teams, I often observe a team meeting (sometimes facilitating but often observing and giving feedback afterwards – I’m like the fly on the wall!)

My role is to ‘make the unspoken spoken’ and help the team see the patterns of behaviour that are working or not working for them. They sometimes know, on some level or other, but don’t quite know how to change things. And sometimes they’re completely oblivious or just accepting of things because ‘it’s always been like that’.

We can all learn to tune our antennae and notice much more than we do now – which means we can start to change things.

Here’s an experiment to help you make a start.

It’s best done in a small meeting that you are not chairing. Ideally it would be a meeting that you attend regularly.

Your role in this meeting is to watch and observe AND as we coaches like to say a lot… ‘to be curious without judgement’

The 80/20 rule applies here.

Listen for about 80% of the time and speak only for 20%. Here are ten things to pay attention to:

  • Imagine you are looking down at the meeting in your helicopter. What do you notice? Is everyone there on time? Are people prepared? Does everybody sit in the same place as they sat last time and the time before (less relevant now we’re virtual, of course!)
  • Who is on time and who is late?
  • Look at each person in turn. Notice their body language (but don’t assume that you can interpret what it means – try to do so at your peril!).
  • Notice everyone’s contribution, or not, to the meeting.
  • Notice who just repeats what someone else says and adds nothing new.
  • Tune into your own feelings and emotions. Do you feel bored? Energised? Excited? Impatient?
  • Notice connections or conflict, spoken or unspoken, between others.
  • Notice how people listen to others and respond to others (interrupting, sighing, rolling eyes, nodding head, on their phones overtly or covertly)
  • Do people commit to things but as they commit you know, in your heart, that they are not really committed (and therefore they won’t deliver?)
  • What else do you notice that you have not tuned in to before?

This is your first experiment in ‘reading the room’.

Try the exercise and see what you notice – and if you want to change something but you’re not sure how then just ask! 

PS There are many more articles and practical resources like this in my Effortless Leader Facebook group. If you’re a leader who wants to be more successful on your own terms and without overwhelm, you might want to join us.


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