From the Ask Tom mailbag:
My last meeting was a one day-seminar working a live case with creative breakout sessions. A warm-up on the beach, 3 coffee breaks and a large lunch break. Instead of 15 minute breaks, the team takes 30 minutes. Instead of 30 minutes for lunch, the team takes 45 minutes. So they found creative techniques to mess with the timetable, and the content of their solutions was not that great.
With this particular group, this happens a lot. I asked for their expectations up front, but that doesn’t work. Normally when I make agreements for a session like this, with other groups, we have no problems.
So, what is different about this team? The answer to your predicament is not some technique on how to handle a group in a meeting. The answer is in what’s different about this group.
I work with groups all over North America. While I have very consistent program material, I have learned that every group I work with is different. And my first job, as a facilitator, or your job, as a manager, is to discover that difference.
If I fail to discover that difference, the level of engagement suffers. When the group is not engaged, they will do something else to fill the time. It appears as misbehavior, taking long breaks, falling asleep or playing with Blackberries under the tablecloth.
Is it the group’s fault? Or is it my fault?
It’s my fault. I failed to engage. I was too impatient, I didn’t listen, I rushed into the content without drawing in the group.
So, over the next few days, we will explore how to do that. -TF