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Working outside the Formal Meetings

Surviving in a Team

The TV show “Survivor” has been broadcasting for quite a few years that gives us some examples that are rather bad on how to work in teams.  The show often gives glimpses into the sidebar meetings and clandestine little chats that make and break alliances.  Members of one tribe plan how to take out their own members.  Convincing each other that the “other” person must be ousted.

While this Reality TV pioneering show shows the bad side of working in teams, that does not mean that these short meetings prior to the main meeting are always bad.

Working in teams does not mean that all of the work happens during the meetings. Sometimes it is the conversations and negotiations that happen between meetings that make progress.  Smart managers realize this and use it to their advantage. They seek out allies to strengthen support before the meeting starts.   They also try to defuse any conflict or disagreement with private informal meetings with those that may disagree.  By doing this they may avoid problems during meetings or make more progress faster by building alliances.  Even though there are many negative examples on the TV show “Survivor”, it is an example of how team members work outside of the formal meeting times. You don’t want to use the backbiting and underhanded techniques that are so obvious on that show.

Moving a team may take more of the sideline campaigning than some are use to.  But taking the time to divide up the team and find who is with you and who might be working in another direction is valuable.  This gives you a perspective on when items will be easy to get agreement on and the ones where you may have trouble.  Knowing what you are up against will streamline meetings by moving faster on those areas when most agree and slowing down for those areas that need greater review.

Having discussions outside the meetings can backfire if you appear to be working the system to your advantage.  If you go too far and start making final decisions outside of the meetings, others will soon figure it out and push back. Not because they disagree with the conclusion, but maybe just because they think the process is rigged.  You need to move toward agreements but not settle them.

By discussing things apart from the meetings you can make more progress or you could shoot yourself in the foot. Be careful when doing this.

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