Meetings always happen

Meetings are one of those universal inevitabilities in the workplace: they can take up a lot of time and, while their premise is usually to share information, resolve open matters or set ground rules, few of us would describe the experience of attending meetings as energising and fulfilling time well spent. Indeed, as a coach, I have heard many a client, colleague and manager breathe a sigh of exasperation in a variation of “I attend so many meetings I barely have time to do my real work”. Instead of being energising, they tend to feel draining and futile, and can result in a sense of disengagement.

As a Solution-Focused Coach and practitioner, I am delighted to share a solution-focused spin on common matters arising in the workplace. This week I introduce a spin on the meeting check-in that can help you and your team bring in some energy and increase the level of productivity in company meetings, right from the start.

“People think better throughout the meeting if the very first thing they do is to say something true and positive about their work or how the work of the group is going”
– Nancy Kline (1999)

Key to using this as a solution-focused meeting enhancer is that the statement made by each attendee has to be personal, true and positive. The intention is not for this to be an accountability exercise (who achieved what and if not why not) but instead it focusses on enabling each team member to recount a moment in his or her work where they felt proud. Take note, it will take some personal reflection and perhaps, some nerve, especially for those who prefer not to ‘toot their own horn’. Toot away.

To use this as a productive check-in exercise, ask everyone to answer one of the following variations:

  1. “What have you done in the last week that made you feel proud of yourself?”
  2. “What have you done since the previous meeting that reminds you of why you wanted this job in the first place?”
  3. “What have you seen in one of your colleagues’ work that has made your proud to be a member of this team?”
  4. “If you were at your best during today’s meeting, how would the rest of us know?”

Depending on the size of the team (and time constraints), try going around the group at least twice or better yet, three times. Subsequent rounds can start with “Another thing I have noticed…” The more answers gathered and shared, the deeper and personally significant the positive observations, the stronger each attendee’s engagement to both the meeting and the workplace.

Watch this space for part 2 of a solution-focused spin on meetings as well as other workplace matters!

Author: Amaechi Nduka-Agwu


Iveson, C. George, E. & Ratner, H. (2012): Brief Coaching: A Solution Focused Approach

Nancy Kline (1999) Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind.