In one of the People and Business Management workshops that I facilitate we ask participants to outline how they would approach their first meeting as the manager of a multicultural team. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the imagination and inclusiveness of the responses.
This article in the Harvard Business Review provides useful guidance. Here’s an excerpt:
- Study up on the variations that exist among cultures and how those differences play out in the workplace
- Create protocols and establish norms so that your colleagues understand how meetings will run
- Incentivize colleagues to step outside their cultural comfort zones by institutionalizing rewards around what you’re trying to motivate people to do
- Be hung up on how people from certain cultures are supposed to act—remember, people are capable of adapting and adjusting their cultural default
- Force a perfect dynamic in meetings—solicit colleagues’ opinions in other venues and encourage people to provide feedback in different ways
- Overlook the importance of team bonding—encourage colleagues to get to know each other outside of meetings so that cultural differences won’t seem as glaring
Here’s [sic] a few reasons why:
- They break your work day into small, incoherent pieces that disrupt your natural workflow
- They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things (like a piece of code or some interface design)
- They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute
- They often contain at least one moron that inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense
- They drift off-subject easier than a Chicago cab in heavy snow
- They frequently have agendas so vague nobody is really sure what they are about
- They require thorough preparation that people rarely do anyway – via Getting Real.
If you absolutely MUST have a meeting, follow these rules.
A good place to start… with practical tips and even some fun stuff.
Marissa Mayer is Google’s vice-president of search products. She is the last stop before engineers and project managers get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Eight teams consisting of directors, managers, and engineers answer to her. She holds an average of 70 meetings a week.
Her goal is to make sure teams have a firm mandate, strategic direction, and actionable information, while making participants feel motivated and respected. Here are Mayer’s six keys to running successful meetings:
1. Set a firm agenda.
2. Assign a note-taker.
3. Carve out micro-meetings.
4. Hold office hours.
5. Discourage politics, use data.
6. Stick to the clock.