Intervening in Non-Productive Individual Situations
Even when you have done an excellent job of setting up a meeting and are using good facilitation skills, you will undoubtedly need to intervene in the group's process from time to time.
An intervention is an action by the facilitator to bring about some change in the meeting process. Interventions can be extremely subtle, or they can be obvious to all. The goal of the intervention is to keep the meeting positive, productive, safe, and on task, as well as to keep the group functioning well and preserve the dignity of individuals involved.
Disruptions to a meeting's progress can come from two sources: individual behaviors or whole-group situations. This week we will focus on redirecting the behavior of individuals.
Imagine that you are conducting a parent meeting to discuss the school's new grading system. One person is dominating the meeting.
First, you choose a subtle intervention: you shift your body position away from this talkative parent, stop making eye contact with her, and look at the rest of the group.
If that works to equalize participation, great!
If the parent keeps talking, you may need to say, "I notice that several people in the group haven't spoken. I'd like to make time to hear some new voices on this issue."
With either intervention, you have kept the dignity of the individual intact and have redirected the meeting.
What if that parent continues to talk? Your next intervention is to use the person's name, affirm them, and then ask for what the group needs:
"Miriam, thanks for letting us know where you stand on the new grading system. Now, I'd like to ask you to hold your other thoughts for a bit so we can hear from others on this issue. Okay?"
That stronger intervention still shows respect for the individual, but it gives a stronger message that she needs to stop talking.
For more information about intervening when one person monopolizes the discussion, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.
NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: How to apply intervention principles to a group situation.