I attended a valuable workshop at the Industry Week Manufacturing & Technology Conference that sharpened my skills on facilitating process improvement events (a.k.a Kaizen Events) and meetings in general.
Mike Thelen, of the Kaizen Institute USA, guided us through the process of becoming a better meeting facilitator by utilizing his 4 categories to identify and better manage people's personalities in meetings. (Note that not all types will necessarily be present in a meeting.)
I have already seen results using many of these techniques and I wanted to share a brief version of them here so that you can better manage these personality types in your next meeting:
The 4 Types of People in a Meeting:
1. Navigators: They want to follow a problem solving process, share ideas, work as a team, and aid you in your meeting and process. Identifying them early and engaging them is critical to your success.
2. Drivers: They believe they already know the solution, and/or speak over others, dismiss others’ ideas, and dominate the conversation. Managing them is critical so that other parties can safely express their viewpoints.
3. Passengers: They don’t want to say anything that could offend anyone or rock the boat. They may have ideas and information, but are fearful of management or others in the room. Passengers need your help to feel safe and share their genuine thoughts.
4. Pedestrians: They communicate their unwillingness to participate through comments and body language. You’ll need to learn and understand what’s behind their behavior and use this information to engage them in solving the problem with you.
The importance of identifying and managing these personality types with a focus on awareness of verbal and nonverbal cues has research behind it.
In a Tony Robbins’ podcast with Charles Duhigg, Duhigg shares results from Google’s studies on building the perfect team. Essentially after spending millions of dollars and studying more than 100 teams, Google found little or no correlation with skills, personalities, interpersonal relationships, etc. with achieving a perfect team. Google did find that how groups operate their meetings, also called group norms, correlated with their success.
Google found that psychological safety was the #1 factor in correlating a group dynamic with team success. The two major elements or norms that created psychological safety were:
1. Getting everyone equally involved in solving a problem or discussing an idea.
2. A leader who demonstrates sensitivity towards the members’ nonverbal cues and encourages their team members to do the same.
If you identify and manage the 4 personality types such that you understand their motivations, provide an environment where they feel safe to share, and foster equal speaking time, then over time you will have empowered participants who add more value by consistently producing better solutions.
I am always looking to improve and I thank Mike Thelen for helping me identify and better manage the 4 types. Do you have your own elements, processes, or rules for making a team more productive? Please share in the comments so that we can all improve our teams and meetings.
Footnotes: The relevant section of the podcast is in 28 to 35 minutes of the April 30 Episode: #1 Secret to Productivity - Lessons from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Charles Duhigg. The feed is here and you will need to manually select the proper episode.
A much longer and thorough explanation of what Charles Duhigg reported on Google can be read in his New York Times Article.