Your meeting is moving forward just as you intended when suddenly Marco breaks the pace, switches tracks with a new subject and takes it in another direction. Yep, you’ve been hijacked. This scenario is a real problem in meetings because hijackers reduce team productivity and keep your group from achieving its goals. Here are four key tactics you can apply to limit the potential for a hijack, minimize a disruption when it happens and to get your meeting back on your track.
1. Have a plan
Send out a written agenda a few days in advance and ask your team for input. People are less likely to disrupt a meeting if they feel like they had a hand in shaping it. More importantly, Marco will be less likely to hijack the meeting when a piece of paper already states the order of business. And if he does, it is more likely that others will help you get things back on track.
2. Don’t let them get started
Open your meeting by simply stating your ground rules and timeframe, emphasizing that you would like everybody to have a chance to weigh-in as the group moves through the agenda. Suggest that you may go around the room on important topics. This will encourage more people beyond Marco to contribute ideas.
3. Listen with neutral reaction
Hard as it may be, the single most important way to affect behavioral change in Marco is to maintain a totally neutral response while he’s holding the stage. Make Marco feel he is being heard as you try to hold eye (or near-eye) contact during the whole time he’s talking. Maintaining a neutral expression also drains engagement without confrontation and works to extinguish an extended monologue faster.
4. Have a one-on-one conversation
Choose a time and private place to approach Marco directly. Don’t argue with him and never scold. Rather, sensitively enquire if he might consider allowing more time for others to talk at the meetings. You might even suggest Marco assist you in getting the team members to contribute more. Marco might have an underlying reason for hijacking the meeting, and, as you talk, you might be able to get to the heart of the matter and discuss that too.
Nothing can derail a meeting faster than a hijacking team member like Marco. Anticipate divisive behavior and try out these four tips to keeping on track. By practicing some meeting hygiene you will lead with success, progress towards goals, and turn any glazed looks into the sparkle of productivity.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner