It was the same in every family meeting I attended. After a matter has been thoroughly debated by the general house, the Chairman would ask the Elders to offer final opinions. Their thoughts would often form the fulcrum on which decisions were made. The eldest spoke last, but his response was always the same ‘my brothers have spoken, where they are, that is where I am!’
As the meeting wound to a close, Mr. Eme in his characteristic way asked if there were any more suggestions on how to tackle the thorny structure issue that has kept the team on its toes. Then calling everyone by name, he’d go round the table to solicit their contributions.
‘I agree with the points made by the previous speakers I have nothing to add’. ‘Nothing Sir’. ‘I am good with the solution proffered by Mr. F’.
It was then I realized that a cross-section of the team never really said anything of value at meetings; zero meaningful contribution and it was the same all the time. Acutely reminiscent of my family meeting – it was a case of ‘my colleagues have spoken, where they are, that is where I am!’
I believe that everyone has something to offer; especially when they believe in themselves and do the required work to tap into their genius. Everyone has a unique perspective they bring to every encounter and it is a huge loss to the team if people are unable to pitch in to solve the problem or improve a situation. When people don’t contribute in meetings, they make the work difficult for the person who’s accountable for providing solutions. That is why it is very important to move the ‘Silenters’ to ‘Speakers’ and ‘Doers’.
Why do people keep silent in meetings? Why do you keep silent yourself?
- They doubt their competence.
- They do not have the required competence.
- They feel inferior.
- Many people are spoilt. They believe that the superstars, Mr. A, B or C will cover things up.
- They fear to take on the superstars if they have contrary views.
- They are not allowed to speak – I have been in a meeting where someone was shut down for attempting to talk. Instead of hearing him out the Chairman asked him ‘what is your grade?’ In another instance, a Director first sized up everyone asking ‘state your name and your grade’ and when there was no one near her grade, she walked away and told the visiting staff, ‘I only meet with Executives, when (my contemporary), your Director’ is ready, you may come back’. All the beautiful ideas just died there, unnaturally.
How can people be helped to become resource people? How can they overcome this parity and reach for the heights that are possible for them? I have looked at my journey and I think the greatest work starts with the individual believing in him/herself and building competence and excellence.
Increase your competence. This is related to one of the greatest questions that everyone should ask and answer him/herself ‘how do I learn? You must draw up a system for continuous learning. Read, watch, listen individually or combined but learn!
We have the greatest learning tool ever – the internet! No matter the topic or subject you can get information that keeps you up-to-date and relevant. That lovely phone in your hands was not meant to be used to only ‘oppress’; please find the Google App and become more useful to your team.
A colleague would always reserve at least 30 minutes before any meeting to ‘google’ the subject matter of any meeting and she was always on top of the game in every meeting. Although an HR professional, she contributed to discussions about Banking, Agriculture, Customer Service, and many more subjects than many people who were professionals in those fields.
When you have studied, believe in yourself and share what you have learned.
In most cases, there are many materials that are circulated before the meetings. Unfortunately, most people do not make the least effort to study them. Please if there are materials that have been circulated for the meeting you are to attend, please read them. If you don’t understand them, find out who does and get help. Otherwise, go to Youtube, Slideshare, Linked In and many other resources out there and you will likely find ‘dummy’ explanations.
Hopefully, you will meet amiable Chairpersons, like Mr. Eme who will recognize you, appreciate your input and allow you to shine.
May your efforts to become an active participant in your meetings be rewarding. May you never be known as a ‘my colleagues have spoken’ staff. May you become a speaker and most importantly a doer as you help your team to win, time and again!
Credits: https://magazine.startus.cc/9-ways-how-to-really-learn-effectively/; https://www.cabem.com/trained-vs-competent-employees/