Meetings Affect Culture (And Vice Versa)
Meetings are where coworkers hash things out. They make decisions. Those decisions reflect and reinforce the values that are at the heart of your organization’s culture.
Not only does what you decide have an impact. How you go about it also shapes culture. After all, culture is nothing more than how people behave in your workplace. Because a meeting is a collaborative activity, those behaviors become visible to all who attend.
They Are Paying Attention
Think about a tough problem that came up in a recent meeting and answer these questions:
- How much candor was demonstrated?
- How broad was the participation?
- Whose voice seemed to carry the most weight?
- What kinds of opinions were heard and what kinds were ignored?
- How much patience did people have for out-of-the-box thinking?
The answers to questions like these and many others say a lot about your culture. Your coworkers walk away with a more refined idea about what’s important around there.
If the behaviors were particularly noteworthy, those coworkers tell the story of what happened to others who weren’t there. With each meeting and each time the story of that meeting is shared, the culture becomes more clear.
Note, I’m not suggesting it becomes better, just more clear and a whole lot tougher to change if it’s not the culture you want.
Meeting Success Depends on Culture
Culture also affects whether your meeting will be successful. Once I booked a training session on a Friday afternoon in late spring. I thought it was an unusual time to do a meeting, but the organizer checked everyone’s calendar and discovered all the people she needed were free.
A couple days before the session, she called to tell me they needed to reschedule the session. She learned that most of the participants planned on being out of the office that afternoon. In Minnesota, this can be a common phenomenon on Friday afternoons from May through September.
The problem was that nobody updated their calendar status with their plans. And, up to that point, that was an acceptable behavior in the organization’s culture.
Ironically the training was on how to run a good meeting. During the rescheduled session, I made the point that sometimes meeting problems can’t be addressed in a meeting. They need to be addressed at a cultural level. I suspect that element of the culture may have changed because of what happened.
We Tackle Cultural Problems
When the meeting problems can’t be solved by a simple meeting technique, we’re willing to go after the true source of those problems and help you solve it.
Let’s have a conversation about what’s happening in your organization, and then we’ll roll up our sleeves and get to work to address the issues.