Reward Disagreement for Creative, Productive Meetings

The genius of meetings at the office, and other forms of communal decision-making, is that everyone can bring their unique knowledge to bear on a specific problem.

The genius of meetings at the office, and other forms of communal decision-making, is that everyone can bring their unique knowledge to bear on a specific problem. When groups of people gather, however, a set of biases arise from our complex social relationships that can derail the benefits of group action. 


Most of these biases result from not wanting to upset social relationships. The so-called "halo effect," for example, results when one component of an idea is attractive (such as the person putting it forth) such that the whole idea is taken as good by everyone. One widely known result of the halo effect is called groupthink.

But by framing disagreement among peers in a way that removes the threat of damage to personal relationships, groups are more able to arrive at ideas that are truly innovative, drawing on the experience and expertise of a whole room rather than a single individual. 

Daniel Kahneman, the Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate, discussed ways he strives to overcome his own biases while working with colleagues (who may or may not agree with his ideas):

When holding a meeting, Kahneman recommends getting everyone's opinion upfront so they aren't stifled by the dominant person or dominant idea in the room. To avoid further biases, individuals can simply jot down a few sentences on a piece of paper before the meeting begins.

And instead of the high-status employee always leading the discussion, Kahneman recommends selecting someone at random to begin the meeting, or simply moving from low- to high-status positions when soliciting a response. Receiving a new perspective first can set an invigorating tone for the meeting, provide a team-oriented atmosphere, and help others to understand the issue from a new angle.

Read more at The Economist.

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Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.

By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:

Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.

Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.

McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.

It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.

But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.

Read more at LinkedIn.

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