People hate meetings… and for good reason. Leadership knows they are expensive, and take up time that could be better spent on producing actual outcomes. Managers can find it difficult to facilitate them without having a process in place. Employees can find them to be boring or a waste of time. But meetings don’t have to be that way.
Managers and other company leaders can be more intentional about which meetingsto have and which ones to skip, and who really needs to be there. For example, one-on-one meetings between managers and employees are vital and should never be skipped. Conversely, providing status updates to the entire team face to face can be accomplished more efficiently via email or sharing a document.
When meetings are necessary and the right stakeholders are in attendance, the person facilitating the meeting can use a framework to focus the conversation. Questions are exceptionally powerful tools for gathering information, sparking introspection, and arriving at decisions. Meeteor’s Change Management Specialist, Tai Tsao, shares a method for asking questions that facilitators can use to stay focused on the agenda, discern the collective wisdom of the group, and reach necessary conclusions.
By Tai Tsao | Originally posted here
Facilitating an effective meeting is not always an easy task. Sometimes one person dominates the airwaves and other times the conversation gets stalled by a wall of silence. Or, the conversation goes round and round without a clear way forward. However, you can leverage some great inquiry techniques to facilitate conversations and get impactful results.
In this post, we will cover four types of questions that you can use to enrich your next team conversation, whether you’re the facilitator or not.
Before we dive into the questions and meeting content, let’s review what makes a good facilitator. The goal of the facilitator is to move the meeting along to achieve the desired outcome. A good facilitator does not need to be a content expert. A good facilitator engages others in the conversation and manages the meeting process to move the conversation forward. Using questions is one tool that can sharpen facilitation skills.
The focused conversation method (also known as the ORID process) is widely used by facilitators in all types of settings, including team discussions, coaching conversations, leadership development, business analysis – any settings that require dialogue to leverage the wisdom of a group.
ORID is derived from the four levels of inquiry: Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional.
As individuals, we go through all of these levels internally when making decisions. However, everyone places emphasis on a different stage of the process. For example, a data scientist might focus more on the objective data while project managers might emphasize more on the analysis that leads to decision-making. The job of the facilitator is to guide the group through the entire process without solely focusing on one and jumping to conclusions without a full perspective.
Among the many benefits of the ORID framework is that it provides facilitators a “checklist” to guide the discussion while addressing all of the different learning preferences of the participants. It is these four stages of questioning that give us the four types of questions facilitators need to use to move effective meetings forward and achieve the desired results.
Objective questions are used to draw out facts, data, and observable reality. The purpose of objective questioning is to ground participants which helps to later recognize that there may be different assumptions, interpretations, and perspectives involved in shaping reality.
Some Objective Questions you can use to set the context:
What is the history of the situation?
What facts do we know about the situation?
(When reviewing data or a presentation) What words, phrases, or pieces of data stand out?
What are the deliverables or what are we trying to achieve?
What resources do we have?
Reflective questions elicit our relationship to the data. They allow participants to explore feelings, emotions, and personal connections to a given situation. They also tend to surface our immediate response. Emotional data is often not acknowledged in the business setting; however, according to Laura Spencer, a thought leader in facilitation and the author of Winning Through Participation, “Emotions are important data. When taken into consideration in making a decision, they strengthen and support the decision. Ignored they usually jeopardize the decision.”
Some Reflective Questions you can ask after the objective data has been explored:
What does this remind you of?
How does this make you feel?
What did you find new or refreshing?
What surprised or delighted you?
What feels most challenging or worries you?
The “So what?” Interpretive questions help participants make sense of the situation by examining values, assumptions, significance, and implications. These questions prompt critical thinking and analysis.
Some Interpretive Questions you can pose to the team for reflection:
What have we learned so far?
What does this mean for us?
How might this affect our work?
What more do we need to know or further explore?
What insights have we unearthed?
If we got a chance to do it again, what would we do differently?
What are some of our strengths and weaknesses – how do they help or hinder us with this situation?
What are the issues underlying the current challenge?
What patterns did you see among similar events?
Please click here to read the remainder of the article, which includes the set of Decisional Questions and advice for putting the ORID process into action.
Meeteor helps leverage meetings to drive productivity, build a healthy company culture and achieve greater results. Meeteor’s robust solution includes web and mobile apps, coaching, and skill-building workshops. Follow Meeteor on Twitter at @meeteorHQ.
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