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It’s the dawn of a new era at the office. You want to navigate your hybrid workplace efficiently and get the most out of every meeting to ensure that exchanging information inspires innovation, collaboration, and productivity. Like it or not, meetings are a necessary evil.
One thing is sure: Your old meeting methods might not be as effective in your current work environment. You don’t want too many meetings since they are counterproductive and tamper with employee creativity and morale.
What about the soloists in your meetings, the individuals you assume have nothing to contribute to the meeting? Maybe the introverts might be harboring the most insightful ideas yet. So, how do you harmonize all these factors to get the most out of your hybrid meetings?
Why do you need to approach your meetings from an understanding perspective?
Think back to your last office meeting. Take a consensus around the room, study every member present, and notice how they respond and engage throughout the meetings. You’ve probably realized that you have two groups of people in your team: the extroverts and the introverts.
Now, everyone loves extroverts because they bring meetings to life. We dare to argue that the office is designed for extroverts. These are the people you first present with promotions and opportunities for career advancement because they are visible. The introverts, however, are often overshadowed and forgotten amid brainstorming sessions or team-related activities. Sadly, many offices barely get a chance to witness their brilliance because they are the quiet ones at work, making it harder to recognize them and their contributions.
But did you know the right environment inspires your quiet colleagues to share their ideas and contentions? Understanding every team member is vital for running an effective meeting and getting the most out of everyone.
Introverts are, in essence, neurodivergent. They do not respond to working environments the way most people do. Instead, they find loud environments overwhelming, judgmental comments might trigger their anxiety, and they prefer to remain in quiet corners.
Drawing out ideas from your silent employees requires you to start by offering a safe environment for them to be themselves. Understand how they process information. The quiet ones take more time to process information before coming up with the most insightful ideas and perspectives. Your introverts like to listen, gather information, and then take time to assess everything before making independent actions. On the other hand, extroverts think on their feet and quickly share their insights.
This diversity encourages you to create a space where every employee’s needs are met, whether in a meeting or working on their daily tasks.
Where the needs differ is where the magic of creating a balanced team happens. Your new hybrid workplace, whether you are hot desking or hoteling, is a perfect environment for your extroverts. Why?
Every employee gets to select where they want to work, whether they prefer collaborative or occasional private spaces. But for introverts, it can be much more challenging to work in a room surrounded by people chatting or working together on a project.
Therefore, include an environment that is entirely designed for isolation. Allow this room to be entirely silent to provide your introverts the space they need to think and reflect. This space will allow your quiet employees to recharge and collaborate better before starting your meeting.
It also allows them to generate better ideas for your projects. After all, the best eureka moments happen in silence. Outside the silent room, consider including neighborhoods that cater to introverts. For example, design a space with low volume where people can sit and talk.
Now, you might be wondering why connections are essential for creating effective meetings in the workplace. If so, think back to the water cooler conversations you were looking forward to every day during your break before the pandemic forced us to keep social distance.
While they took less than five minutes, these conversations were the kicker you needed to get the morale to finish your big project or get insightful ideas on tackling challenging tasks. This was also the perfect opportunity to better understand your workers and connect with them beyond working tasks and responsibilities.
Do you remember how that made you feel about your colleagues? Did you check up on your teammates and their families? Was it easier for you to trust them and share your ideas? Imagine if this was the same connection you had with every member in your meeting.
Connections make it much easier for everyone in the meeting to share their thoughts, ask questions, and collaborate. Getting everyone to share ideas ensures you get the most value from your employees’ skills and capabilities. This is precisely the type of interaction you are looking for.
The best part about building connections is that the entire process doesn’t have to be boring. You can start by building office neighborhoods that create synergy among your workers. Then introduce activities that will make your meetings introvert-friendly.
The goal here is to create a space where every individual in the meeting feels comfortable contributing and collaborating. As such, where your extroverted team members are comfortable going into the meeting clueless, your introverts might prefer some guidance beforehand, especially if you want them to contribute to the conversations.
Therefore, plan your meeting ahead of time. Remember, for most introverts, engaging in a crowd can be overwhelming. But planning allows them to prepare mentally for these interactions. As a bonus, it reduces your meeting time, thus, enhancing your productivity.
You don’t want to meet in the morning because most employees are still trying to get the hang of the day. You want to avoid meeting your team immediately before or after lunch. Most people are hungry and sleepy and less attentive during this time.
Don’t set the meeting minutes before clocking out time because employees are already losing concentration and tired from the day’s work. Let’s not forget about Friday; it’s Friday, the last day you should set a meeting.
Instead, the best time to schedule your meeting is mid-morning when your team has already started working, their energy level is high, and their focus is at its peak. Mid-afternoons also work because most tasks are complete, and your employees are still productive.
Outline the objectives of the meeting. Give a list of your attendees, especially if they are meeting for the first time. Collect all the material you will need for the meeting, like presentation slides. Include a list of questions that will provoke conversation.
For instance, include several topics and ask each member to choose one. Then when in the meeting, ask them to share their ideas regarding the topic. Ask provocative questions your dissenters will love to answer.
These are questions that bring out the negative side of your project, like the reasons why the project will fail or why it could go wrong.
Let’s introduce dissenters, the people that might undermine your plan, but only so that you can make it better. You’ve probably been told that having yes-men in your close circle will only hinder you from actual growth, and with good reason.
Having support is critical. But when accolades and no positive criticism often surround us, we become stagnant and comfortable. The same idea applies to your meeting. You need people who look at the glass half empty to provide a different perspective on your idea.
Besides, there is always a positive and negative side to something, and being effective means looking at every scenario and analyzing how it affects the outcome. So don’t allow your dissenters to keep their opinions to themselves. Allow them to speak up and share their contentions. This is how you come out of the meeting with an effective plan.
Sometimes, you will find that your meeting is at a stalemate. When this happens, start to encourage bad ideas. The worst ideas might be the ones to jog back your mind into creativity and better ideas. Bad ideas can help you arrive at the solution faster.
Introverts are excellent listeners, thoughtful speakers, deep thinkers, detailed observers, and compassionate leaders. All these are qualities you want in a meeting because they breed the best ideas. However, you cannot get the type of value your introverted employees have if you don’t create a safe space to shine and collaborate. Creating a successful and effective hybrid meeting means providing an environment where everyone feels safe to provide input without the fear of judgment.
Therefore, know your employees, make your working environment a safe space, and encourage them to build connections within the organization. But above all, make sure your quiet workers are not invisible.
Get our guide to ensure everything is covered as you transition your business model for hybrid working.