In a poll by Office Team, 45 percent of senior executives said their firms would
be more productive if they banned all meetings at least one day a week.
problem that often occurs — beyond the obvious, like lacking a clear agenda — is
the underlying current of competition that each person brings to the table,"
says Berny Dohrmann, chairman and founder of CEO Space International and author
of "Redemption: The Cooperation Revolution."
"Competition pulls people apart; cooperation brings them together. Signs that
competition is causing unproductive meetings include one or two people
dominating the floor; individuals touting their achievements; people
consistently failing to contribute their ideas because they fear being
criticized or ridiculed."
The drive to compete is so ingrained in most of us, we often don't recognize
it, Dohrmann says.
"We get it culturally. We learn it in school. It's often reinforced within
our own families as we're growing up. We have to be aware of that and identify
the culture we want, then set about creating it — beginning with our meetings."
Cooperative meetings yield far better results, he says. People working
together toward a goal are more efficient, more productive and even happier. The
group pulling together toward the same goal will achieve that goal far more
quickly than individuals each pulling in opposite directions, Dohrmann says.
How can you turn competition into cooperation — and wasted meetings into
fruitful gatherings? He offers these suggestions:
When someone makes a suggestion that can help
another individual or department, publicly acknowledge and praise that
teamwork. Encourage inter-departmental interest, empathy and even personal
bonds by allowing employees from one area to shadow employees from another.
Remind everyone that when one department succeeds, everyone succeeds. Look
for managers and employees who tend to be naturally cooperative and enlist
them as mentors and leaders to encourage and spread the new culture.
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Avoid discouraging the
behavior with tactics that rely on public criticism, scorn or
ridicule. Rather, set egalitarian standards, such as time limits
for each person to speak, and stick to them. When someone strays
off topic, discern whether he or she is sharing a potentially
valuable idea or seeking a personal competitive advantage (i.e.,
by laying blame, self-promoting, etc.) before steering him back
Identify and curb
competitive behavior in meetings.
Require everyone to participate in
meetings. Circulate the agenda in advance with the stated
expectation that each attendee will come to the table prepared
to address at least one item — even if it's not an item within
their area of responsibility. Participation is a key component
of a cooperative work group, and making it the norm is often as
simple as getting everyone into the habit.
essential to cooperation.
Berny Dohrmann is chairman and founder of
International, one of the largest support organizations for
business owners. As the inventor of Super Teaching, a Title I
technology that accelerates retention for public schools, he is a
frequently a guest speaker in various nations, VIP conferences and
television programs. As a member of the Dohrmann family, which
operated the largest global resort-outfitting firm as Dohrmann Hotel
Supply for several generations, he grew up with several business
mentors, including Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Walt Disney,
Warner Earnhardt, Bucky Fuller, Dr. Edward Deming and Jack Kennedy.
He has learned from both success and adversity. Indicted for
criminal contempt for a $86,000 junk bond from an investment banking
firm he had sold, he fought the charge in court, but lost in 1995
and went to prison for 18 months. He has since made a documentary
about the experience.
[Text from file received from
News and Experts]