Do you ever notice how the same people tend to talk a lot in meetings, and those who usually stay quiet nearly never speak up? Quiet COOs against vehemently outspoken CEOs are a common example of how communication can become lopsided in meetings even in the most top-level.
There shouldn’t be just one person speaking during the meeting. As the Chief Operating Officer, you may have felt that you could have added value to the meeting if only you were given the chance to speak up. The same applies to everyone else down the ladder as well, but the COO most of all. If you can’t find the opportunity to speak up, how will anyone else?
Here are some tips on how you, as a COO, can foster useful communication in meetings.
If for some reason, you as COO have to remain quiet during top-level meetings, the least you can do is encourage the quiet employees who report to you to speak up instead. If you happen to be a CEO, you are essentially second in command to no one. That means that you have no outside perspective if you don’t encourage others to speak up to you. Success requires multiple perspectives.
“With a strong listening ability, a leader can find the perfect ideas to improve their business while also making their employees feel appreciated and listened to. It’s a win-win.” – COO Alliance
In order to run successful meetings, you must engage every meeting participant, especially the ones who typically remain silent. With some encouragement, these people could really add value to the discussion.
Foster Dialogue With Newcomers
Just like it’s important to foster dialogue with the quiet ones, it’s important to notice the newcomers and encourage them to speak up, too. They’re going to tend to be the most nervous and therefore the quietest.
“Whether you are in a one on one meeting, interview, or team meeting, listening is key. Allowing yourself to see other people’s side of view Is imperative. You do not want your co-workers to feel like their input doesn’t matter.” – Docket HQ
You can foster dialogue with newcomers by going around the table, moving up in seniority as you solicit feedback.
Giving Feedback Last
As leaders, COOs should always give feedback last so that they don’t sway the group one way or the other.
“As seen in many examples of great leaders before: leadership means supporting and encouraging talents, because a real leader understands that a company or team is only as successful and great as the people it is made of. Feedback is like the water for flowers, without it, they won’t bloom.” – Huffpost
This is actually one of the key employee management tips that are taught at CEO, CFO, and COO training seminars, to help executives build a more cohesive team.
Another strategy for fostering useful communication during meetings is to employ a strategy from GE’s Six Sigma Workout Process, another standard tactic in CEO, CFO, and COO training seminars.
“He [Cameron Herold] asks everyone in attendance to write one idea down on a sticky note. Then he goes around and has each person read what they wrote down and put it on the wall. This way, everyone gets to voice their thoughts in a concise, effective manner.” – Forbes
It’s easy: simply give every meeting participant some adhesive notes, and instruct them to write down five to ten ideas, one per note. Then read them out loud and stick them to the wall. In doing so it could be the first time someone has been heard, listened to, or even asked about their ideas. It’s simple, yet highly effective.
In meetings, it’s also essential that you make sure people aren’t distracted by their texts or emails. Good communication means being present and listening to others. Without those two things, then what’s the point of the meeting at all? You’ll never do what you need to get done! Or you won’t do it the best way it can possibly be!
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.