Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

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Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby disjointed » Thu Nov 07, 2013 7:13 am

Sorry if I make typos. I'm very tired an have been writing up documents for conference. It's been a busy week so far.

So the team I've been assigned to has many people of differing capacities, some people have done research and some haven't and so have more or less to contribute in meetings.

We have not formally picked team leaders as suggested and our meetings have not led anywhere productive yet because the people that are being assertive and taking control of the discussion in general have the least to contribute.

Because I have the most research in the subject and have the most experience with these conferences, I tried to direct the meeting towards what actually needs to be discussed and open up the room for people to speak.

Instead of my intended result, the people I wanted to speak felt put on the spot and didn't speak much, and the assertive know nothings who literally did not know the basics of the subject have privately criticized me for dominating the "conversation".



I want to help my team but these 2 know nothings keep consuming everyone's time by interrupting and explaining basics of the subject that everyone except them already knows as if it's something new and useful. A few people have said that our preliminary meetings are a waste of time and are just the same 2 people talking with each other, and it's true.

If I criticize them they will go off and they will sacrifice the remaining meeting with their tantrums and create disharmony at a critical time. And I cannot kick them off the team.

So tonight I have decided to let them play leader while loading people up with the information they need to know for the conference by email. Our performance at the conference will have an impression and affect all of our standings so I wanted to use my expertise to make sure everyone shined, but with this current dynamic I have limited ability to help.

Before I totally forget what I was talking about and fall asleep in my office (oh god I'm still at the office), how do Buddhists go about guiding situations without resorting to intimidation or something to reign in confused people with big egos?
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby lobster » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:00 am

disjointed wrote:how do Buddhists go about guiding situations without resorting to intimidation or something to reign in confused people with big egos?


:rolling:

Quite often worse than other groupings.

It might be possible in your situation to keep questioning the people who know most or split the group into teams of two to write down important points, whose info you can then collate and report on, ignoring or dealing with the obvious points last. You might for example team a 'big mouth' with a knowledgeable person - they are probably more able to make their point in a 'one to one', rather than group situation. The big mouth can then relate or report the points written down. Make sure the knowledgeable people are writing down the points.

Is that of any use? :shrug:
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby palchi » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:36 pm

disjointed wrote:So the team I've been assigned to has many people of differing capacities, some people have done research and some haven't and so have more or less to contribute in meetings.

We have not formally picked team leaders as suggested and our meetings have not led anywhere productive yet because the people that are being assertive and taking control of the discussion in general have the least to contribute.

Because I have the most research in the subject and have the most experience with these conferences, I tried to direct the meeting towards what actually needs to be discussed and open up the room for people to speak.

Instead of my intended result, the people I wanted to speak felt put on the spot and didn't speak much, and the assertive know nothings who literally did not know the basics of the subject have privately criticized me for dominating the "conversation".



I'm doing quite a bit of team leading, facilitation, chairing etc. so just a few pointers you might find helpful....

First of all, as a group you have to formally decide on a team leader who is guiding the discussion (which does not mean dominating content) and a rapporteur who takes notes and will report back to the plenary. Having roles clear helps a lot with keeping discussions on track.

Second step is setting ground rules - being on time, no interrupting, mobiles on silence, everybody should participate ... this sort of thing. Normally this would be done by the team leader asking for suggestions. It is also helpful to have a 'parking lot', a place where you can note down issues that come up but are distracting from the discussion at hand. Parking them acknowledges that they are there and they can be handled later on. In a few meetings, participants also had 'red cards' that they could hold up when somebody was domineering, disruptive or just going on and on... it rarely happened that anybody would use them, but just having the possibility helped keep things on track.

Thirdly, it may be good at this stage to clarify again and get consensus on the task at hand and the steps to complete it.

Finally, don't assume that people who are no researchers don't have anything to contribute. In all teams you have people with a variety of competencies, views and personalities. They all have something important to contribute. And they will, if they are in an environment where they feel valued and accepted.

Good luck
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby Nemo » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:46 pm

There is an institution where this is generally not a problem. We were put into a team building test experiment on an annual meeting that was mainly a drunken long weekend to blow off steam all while saying we were "working". The person leading it could not make the teamwork and cooperativeness break down as she was able to in other sectors. She said she had never seen a more supportive and co-operative group. The Canadian military lives by a motto, "Mission, Team, Self." If your team would follow this you could accomplish more than any of you could on our own.

I would suggest being very clear about the mission with everyone. Especially asking the grand standing egotists how to best accomplish your goals .
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby disjointed » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:34 pm

palchi wrote:Finally, don't assume that people who are no researchers don't have anything to contribute. In all teams you have people with a variety of competencies, views and personalities. They all have something important to contribute. And they will, if they are in an environment where they feel valued and accepted.

Good luck
palchi


In this case the whole purpose of meeting is to coordinate research for presenting. Since they don't know the research, they can't possibly know how to present it. I think maybe their plan is to push and shove their way to the front and make it seem like they supervised everyone elses' work while not doing any of their own. This whole thing will be over in a few days, conference will last three days. Next year they just won't be invited and the spotlight can't make them go crazy again.

Some of these group management techniques I've never heard of. Next year I'll make sure I'm officially in control of the meetings and may try some of them. This all makes me wonder if I should have asserted control of the group from the beginning and intimidated them into submission. Things would have been better for them and everyone else I think.
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby palchi » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:02 am

disjointed wrote:
palchi wrote:Finally, don't assume that people who are no researchers don't have anything to contribute. In all teams you have people with a variety of competencies, views and personalities. They all have something important to contribute. And they will, if they are in an environment where they feel valued and accepted.

Good luck
palchi


In this case the whole purpose of meeting is to coordinate research for presenting. Since they don't know the research, they can't possibly know how to present it. I think maybe their plan is to push and shove their way to the front and make it seem like they supervised everyone elses' work while not doing any of their own. This whole thing will be over in a few days, conference will last three days. Next year they just won't be invited and the spotlight can't make them go crazy again.

Some of these group management techniques I've never heard of. Next year I'll make sure I'm officially in control of the meetings and may try some of them. This all makes me wonder if I should have asserted control of the group from the beginning and intimidated them into submission. Things would have been better for them and everyone else I think.



I appreciate you are having a frustrating experience with your group. Group work however only ever works if all members feel accepted and valued. If you 'intimidate people into submission' the only thing you will ever get is resistance and people becoming negative and undermining the process. If you only want to ensure your agenda gets done, then you don't need team work, you can do it alone. Team work means you are a team. If some of the people are not researchers - have you (or anybody) presented on the research to get everybody onto the same page? Also people who don't know the research might still have ideas on how to present - style of presentation, key messages that would resonate with the audience, set-up of the conference room, maybe something humorous to get the audience's attention.... they can also be a sounding board whether the research results will be understood by the audience.

Also, rather than trying to assert yourself, it might be good to let go a bit. To develop some trust that others may have good ideas too. To not criticise anybody in the group and to only make positive contributions that help the process. In the end you will gain natural authority and respect rather than people feeling intimidated by you. Maybe, after your conference, do some reading on leadership and group work skills and practice in situations where the stakes are not so high.

Most of the team work exercises I'm part of whether as participant or team leader have a vast mix of people and views discussing things that half of the group have no clue about, a few have strong opinions on but no evidence to back them up and a few are trying to make things work regardless - so I sympathize :consoling: The art is to turn this disparate lot of people into a team that works together, produces results and is appreciating each other. Takes time to get there... but it's possible. For me, and that's where Buddhist teachings come in, the key is to appreciate everybody and to try to put myself into others' shoes, to understand where they are coming from and why they are doing what they are doing. Most are actually trying to do their best. Seeing it like this helps me to take away some of my pressure and tension, not to mention expectations. The other thing is that I try to remember to not take myself too seriously.

Next lesson: the art of facipulation (I leave it to you to find out what it is) :rolling:
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby disjointed » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:21 am

The research is public and it was their responsibility to have at least general knowledge.

I think it would be easier to just make sure I'm in control and when people are wasting people's time by showboating, take them aside and tell them they lost their seat at the table and to get lost.
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby lobster » Sat Nov 09, 2013 8:00 am

[quote="disjointed"I think it would be easier to just make sure I'm in control and when people are wasting people's time by showboating, take them aside and tell them they lost their seat at the table and to get lost.[/quote]

Indeed. :popcorn:

The 'fascist methodology' is widely used in Buddhism, with varying degrees of success. As a quick fix why not. Good luck.

:rolling:
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby Nemo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:03 pm

Authority does not come from force. You can imagine as a former soldier I know a thing or two about brute force.

Authority comes from legitimacy. Once you have that the ability of your team becomes almost superhuman. The question you should ask is how do you achieve legitimacy?
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby dimeo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 10:29 pm

@ disjointed:
It's interesting that you should post this. I was attempting to work with a team this week and dealing with similar issues.

I'm the senior member who called the team meeting because it's suddenly made up of entirely inexperienced members. In a nutshell, they didn't want to do what they're supposed to, and continually try to avoid meeting requirements set by our employers and they think it's OK they dodge meeting the goals. I was feeling rather frustrated by this as it's a little concerning that our team doesn't meet the policies, let alone want to.

But in the end, they are unique individuals that when it really comes down to it, I'm not really 'in charge' of or have been assigned any authority over... so I ask them what they think/want and they continue on with asking to be "told" what to do and wanting to know "what we're doing". I outline the goals again and they continue saying they don't want to. Very strange.... similar to wanting to have the cake and eat it too.

So in the end we 'write up' the list of things that have been talked about, and I can see by the end of it that it hardly matters to the other members in the group what we've talked about for the day. They simply agreed to meet because they couldn't get away with refusing to.

I return home by the end of the day feeling bothered, but also realize that there is tremendous opportunity right under my nose. I could focus on what bothers me or on the infinite good possibilities that remain open for me ahead.
Rather than focusing on how my attempt to make plans for other people to do the things I think they should, I can make my own decisions going ahead for things I do have control over. I can find ways to simplify my life and reduce the stress in the workplace. I can be pleasant and make the day pleasant for others who also have to be there.

Some things we don't have control over really... C'est la vie. When I accept this, I feel much better. :cheers:
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby greentara » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:31 am

Dimeo, "It's a little concerning that our team doesn't meet the policies, let alone want to."
Who can blame them...another talk fest? Meet the policies of big business, the corporations? Give it a break!
The key words are.....they don't want to be there but have to. Thats the message they're giving you! If you have any insight thats what you've got to work with.
Depending on your own inner strength, wisdom and of course wanting to keep your job; lets see what you can cobble together?
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby householder » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:56 am

I dunno - sounds very similar to our team meetings, I work in public education. Personally, I have really thought about my own situation and I don't believe I am engaged in "right livelihood." - how bout you?
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May you always be free from suffering and its causes
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby greentara » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:17 am

Very few of us really love our work. If you have to browbeat other people during an office meeting.....it can't be right livelihood. Whatever... its just a way to earn a living.
The staff are bored, there's all the lacklustre chat going on. On the table glasses and jugs of water, the room is too warm and you feel like you're going to nod off to sleep.
Talking heads saying nothing of any real value.
I'm sure we've all been there before.
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Re: Group mechanics - How to guide without forcing

Postby dimeo » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:44 am

householder wrote:I dunno - sounds very similar to our team meetings, I work in public education. Personally, I have really thought about my own situation and I don't believe I am engaged in "right livelihood." - how bout you?


I've always seen public education as "right livelihood" because makes such a positive difference in people's lives. Of course kids have a big chip on their shoulder and a bit of a 'prisoner' attitude. A free and compulsory education for children offers society so much good! Imagine returning to the stone age where it doesn't exist.
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