In the first two posts of this series, we discussed having a purpose for your meeting, establishing ground rules and getting the right people there. Today I am going to discuss handling politics and controlling the meeting.
Politics are in every organization. When I was younger, much younger, I used to get upset when politics got in the way of getting things done. If you feel that way now, let me save you some time and aging by telling you that politics is a fact of life…. you need to get over it. If you let your emotions control you, you won’t be effective.
So how do you handle politics during a meeting? My first piece of advice is to ensure you know what is going to happen in your meeting, before you actually have it. As much as possible, I try to ensure that I have all the pieces of information I need about the topics that are going to be discussed. It is never a good thing when you, as the leader, are surprised or ambushed in a meeting.
To prepare for meetings that you know are going to be controversial, meet with your stakeholders beforehand to ensure you know how they feel about the topic in question. Find out what their concerns are, and if possible, alleviate them. Do your homework and come to the meeting prepared to counter their concerns, or to facilitate the discussion in a manner that addresses them. It would also be wise to let your boss know what the concerns are beforehand too. With this knowledge, he or she can meet with those who may not agree with your side of the situation before the meeting.
There is no silver bullet to handling difficult personalities. However, you can work to alleviate the negative impact by adhering to the following:
- Get your organization to define what constitutes good behavior in a meeting. I have heard it said that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
- Set ground rules for how long a topic is to be discussed and how decisions are made.
- Meet with those who are difficult one on one before the meeting.
- Stick to factual information and avoid making decisions based on emotions or feelings
- If you cannot lead the meeting effectively, get someone else to facilitate
- Learn how to be direct or facilitative (check out Toastmasters International)
Follow this link to get more tips on dealing with difficult personalities.
All the best!
All the time!