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A developmental meeting is a meeting to think about how to do things better. The format and atmosphere is different from a meeting to progress day to day matters. You need to help people share their thoughts and feelings easily and openly. For example, a meeting where you ask people to say what they think about a topic while everyone else listens would be a developmental meeting.
Why have developmental meetings?
Ø They stimulate thought about how you work together, and lead to improvements.
Ø They help you appreciate and use each other's strengths, interests and contribution.
Ø They help you eliminate duplication and unnecessary work.
Ø They help you shape your future together.
Ø They create new ideas and energy.
Ø They help to stretch people.
How to run developmental meetings?
Ø Start the meeting by going round the group and asking everyone to say something positive, while everyone else just listens. You can ask them to say something that is going well, or something directly related to the topic. For example, if you are discussing customer service, it might help to ask them to say why this is important to them. This activity helps people to connect to each other and be positive.
Ø Create an agenda from the group's key interests and concerns. You can ask everyone what the most important issues are that he or she would like the group to work on today. List the issues on a flip chart without editing or comment. Then ask each person to tick off the (say) three issues from the list that she or he would like to work on. The issues with the most ticks are the agenda for the meeting.
Ø Ask the participants to share their best thinking on a topic or issue for (say) two minutes, while everyone else just listens attentively. This makes the noisy people focus their energy and gives the quiet ones time to think. They also don't have to fight for attention. Have a turn yourself but go last if you are the most senior person at the meeting. When everyone has been heard, the rest of the meeting often goes very well.
Ø Use sub-groups. If you form small groups from the people with most interest in a topic, you will get more and better work done than if you stay together. Groups of three to five are the most effective for producing and testing ideas.
Ø If you need to get everyone thinking about something quickly, ask people to take a few minutes each way talk and listen to each other in pairs. This is particularly effective when you are a bit stuck on something controversial. The thoughts from their paired discussions are usually constructive. Pair work is useful you want a thoughtful response to an announcement of a change. You can ask each pair to come up with a question or a comment. You will get more and more thoughtful responses.
Ø At the end of the meeting, or half way through if it is a long one, go round the group and ask people for their thoughts about the meeting. You can ask people what they learned, what was good about it and how the next one could be better. This will not only improve the meetings, it will also share the responsibility for them working well.
When to have developmental meetings?
Ø When you want to improve the quality of your work together.
Ø When your conventional meetings need a lift.
Ø When you have a new challenge to face and want your colleagues input.
Ø When you need ideas and new approaches.
Ø When you are going through or managing a change.
Ø When you need to get cooperation across the organisation or between your organisation and another.
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