A Butt in the Seat Does Not Mean a Mind in the Room

November 27, 2016 By Croft Edwards - No Comments
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5 Clues Your Team Is Not Actually Present (Even Though You See Them) 

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting in an organization’s senior management team meeting. What struck me was that this was a meeting in name only; the managers were physically present but were mostly uninvolved in the proceedings. This was compounded by the apparent lack of awareness by the senior leader that everyone was disengaged. As an outside observer, it was clear that this team was not having powerful conversations directed at organizational success. Here are some of the clues that tipped me off.  As you read the clues, think back to your last team meeting.

1)  Eye Contact – How is the eye contact in the meeting? Is there safe, natural and connected eye contact during conversations, a sign of a higher performing team?  Or, is there limited eye contact, connecting only when spoken to, with frequent averting of the eyes, a sign of distrust?

 2) Arms Folded – Do the participants keep their arms folded and in close to their bodies, using limited hand gestures for making points? This is a sign of a lack of openness (or cold temperature, check the thermostat.) In a safe, effective team meeting, hand and arm gestures will be natural and flowing, adding to the energy of the meeting.

3) Lack of Open Questions – Does the team leader asked closed ended questions, or questions that team members are afraid to answer? The ability of a team to have powerful conversations is directly related to their ability to ask powerful questions, and if these questions are missing or infrequent, the team will be disconnected. Or, does the leader and team ask open ended questions that are conducive to open, creative conversations? These are signs that the team members feel connected to the team, which will promote better performance.

4) Focus on Past Performance – Do the team meetings focus mainly on the past, nitpicking the past performance of team members? Meetings like this will tend to cause members to want to hide from participating in the meeting for fear of becoming the public execution of the day. Meetings that are proactively focusing on the future and how this future can be created together as a team will allow team members to show up in a mood of participation and ambition.

5) Humor that Tears Down – Humor is a great indicator of the quality of participation and presence of the team members. Is the humor biting, sarcastic, or downright degrading and mean, leading to low participation? Or, is there light, open, and healthy humor, which creates a mood of fun and energy, a sure-fire way to increase the participation of team members?

Take a few minutes in your next meeting and see for yourself what the above clues reveal to you. If you are running the meeting, make sure that your team is more than just physically present. After all, your success depends on it.


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