Avoiding team meeting malaise

Have you ever sat around in a team meeting, trying to brainstorm and wondering why things just aren’t going very well?  Well it could be one of several factors contributing to the poor dynamics of the group. It could be the way that the group works together and how each of the individuals in the group produces their best work.

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The New York Times reckons that creativity comes from groupthink and that introverts that prefer to work alone are main catalysts for innovation.  But how do you mix the two?

If being on our own makes us more productive, then how can we encourage creativity in teams.  Many meetings are wasted with large teams, together in a room trying to think creatively.

Some folks work better alone, some work better with others.  Often the loudest voice does not have the best ideas. Sometimes the failure could be down to the meeting, other fails might be down to the dynamics of the meeting. 

So how do you get the best out of meetings, and the personalities in the team?

No Goals. Without a goal, the ideas won’t start to flow.  Attendees won’t know what they are trying to achieve by the brainstorm.

Poor preparation. Giving attendees time to think about what the meeting will be about and how you want to progress the meeting giving them time to come up with something on their own that they can add to the mix.  A coffee break before the brainstorming session usually works wonders.

Game the brainstorming session. Turn the brainstorm into a competition with a token gift for the team member that produces the most number of unique  and workable ideas. giving teams a challenge usually adds an extra dynamic into the game.

Split the whole team into smaller sub groups. The brainstorming as a whole will be more productive than everyone sitting round in a large group looking for ideas.  Generate several lists from each sub group and discuss the results, choosing the best sub group idea back with the main group.

Stay uncomfortable. If people get too comfortable with each other they will relax and devolve attention and responsibility onto others. Shake up your group think by changing your sub groups round regularly.

It is possible for Intraverts to thrive in extravert environments but more important to give your teams the tools they need to do their best work.  If they are introverts, then leave them to brainstorm alone, others can work as a group.  Forcing introverts to work with others will stifle their creativity not enhance it.

Letting your team work in they way that each individual needs to work will avoid the team meeting malaise and energise the group as a whole..

Credit: JD Hancock

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.