Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting
Posted February 26, 2009on:
Over the last thirty years or so, group think has become a term against which all employers rebel because it signifies the end of creative and independent thought. When you have a tightly-knit group of people who work together, they are likely to conform to one another’s thought processes, making it almost impossible to foster independent thought. This is something that should be avoided at all costs, so here are a few tips for avoiding group think during a business meeting.
Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Don’t Get Mad
One of the ways that you can promote groupthink is by getting angry every time an employee opposes your viewpoint. If you send the message that contradicting the boss is “bad”, the group as a whole will avoid inciting conflict. Instead, make new ideas and arguments a pleasant experience, and take every idea into consideration. Further, if one or two members of the group consistently berate another member for their ideas, take them aside and advise them that all ideas are welcome. Make the business meeting a positive atmosphere.
Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Appoint a Co-Leader
Often, one leader of a business meeting can seem overwhelming to the rest of the group. Since you have your own opinions, they may assume that there’s aren’t welcome, which promotes groupthink. To battle this problem, appoint a co-leader for your business meetings — preferably someone who is likely to disagree with you. Show your staff that new and previously unmentioned ideas are not only acceptable, but welcome.
Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Assign Discussion Leaders
You might take a page out of the educational rule book and assign discussion leaders for each meeting. For example, let’s say that there are four topics on the agenda, and there will be twelve members of the meeting. A week before the meeting takes place, assign those four topics to groups of three. This gives each group a chance to brainstorm ideas and to come up with possible solutions for the meeting. This will help battle groupthink because they won’t be asked to come up with ideas on the spot in front of all their colleagues.
Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Give Breaks
A business meeting doesn’t have to be a three-hour-long marathon; it can be broken up. You might want to schedule two meetings for the day — one before lunch and one right after. This will allow your staff to come up with new ideas, to argue those ideas, and then to take a mental and emotional breather. When you reconvene, they’ll feel fresh and ready to start anew.
Avoid Groupthink During a Business Meeting: Provide a Venue for Anonymous Feedback
One of the reasons why groupthink is so prevalent is because people are reluctant to voice a controversial idea in front of their colleagues. In order to allow everyone a voice, come up with a venue for anonymous feedback. For example, after every meeting, you can leave a closed box in a room with small slips of paper. Allow your staff to write down their reactions to the meeting as well as new ideas they weren’t comfortable with bringing up. Make sure the box cannot be opened and that there is a slit in the top for the pieces of paper.