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Agile Notes (No. 59)
What to do When a Manager is in the Room/on the Call
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This week, we continue with Collaboration Explained by Jean Tabaka. We are still on Chapter 17: Managing the Meeting Participants. (This might be the last topic from this chapter. Maybe one more but we will see how I feel next week.)
In this section, Tabaka starts off by identifying the problem. It is one we have all seen. Some of you may even BE the problem we are about to get into. :) She writes,
Sometimes when a higher-level manager or executive stakeholder is in the room, you’ll find that a team, while posing as a collaborative, self-organizing team, may not really be at all. You may watch them consistently defer to the manager’s opinions and decisions. Very often, they won’t express an opinion until the manager has stated an opinion first.
I’ve seen it happen a thousand times.
The screen grab this week provides tips on how to deal with it. In this world of Zoom, Teams, and Meets, the second bullet isn’t really viable. I like the first bullet, but when I have used the technique it was in real-time. (I do love the world that Tabaka wrote this in - 2006. Forever and a pandemic lock down ago when we got together in giant conference rooms for all day/all week meetings. Do those still happen?)
I have asked a manager to go last. Let the people talk! I have also called a time-out on calls (“Let’s take a five minute break) and reached out directly (I have been working remotely long before the pandemic) to the offending person(s).
A lot of what Tabaka teaches is concerned with getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations. The goal is to help teams become truly collaborative machines. You’re goal is to help them navigate The Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing Model. Dealing with a team that defers to the top level person in the room is one of those potentially uncomfortable situations.
What about you? Tell us your meeting horror stories and what you did to overcome challenging situations. What did you do to shepherd your group through it? What kind of tools have you implemented?
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