Establish ground rules. Too often meetings get derailed because there is no code of conduct and they degenerate into a free for all. You have the dominators who absolutely must express their opinions. The silent sulkers cannot get a word in, so they simply shut down until after the meeting when they share their true thoughts. Then there are the “side conversationists” who are whispering away and “multi-taskers” who are checking email or cruising Facebook on their smartphones, and the list goes on. With the team, establish the ground rules for your meetings.
• Meetings start and end at the designated time.
• Agenda items are addressed one item at a time.
• Everyone comes to the meeting prepared and arrives on time.
• Opinions and viewpoints are expressed politely and by all.
• One person speaks at a time.
• Everyone listens with respect.
• Cell phones and laptops are turned off.
• Relevant information is shared freely.
• Questions are welcomed to better understand issues and points of view.
• When necessary, reasoning behind opinions is explained.
• Disagreements and differing opinions are welcomed as an opportunity to learn more about an issue and ultimately make a more informed decision.
• Meeting notes are to be sent within one week of the meeting.
Post these where everyone can see them at every meeting. In addition, ask a member of the team to read them aloud at the start of every meeting, at least early on. Don’t let people slide, gently remind offenders of the rules from day one.