Speaking Last and the Nominative Group Technique

You may have encountered this situation before: you’re in a meeting, and the team leader seems to be using it as an opportunity to remind everyone who is running things, dominating the conversation and setting the agenda without any consultation.

Maybe you haven’t been part of a situation quite as severe as that, but it is easy to see why this may happen and why it is bad for team building and development. Of course, leaders like to take charge and demonstrate that they are in control. One way of doing this is by speaking first in a meeting, laying out what they perceive to be a goal or end-state before anyone else has a chance to chime in.

Speaking in meeting

The key problem with this is that most of your team would rather not challenge the boss, even if there are legitimate issues that have gone without discussion. As you might guess, this can easily stifle any conversation and notice of needed improvements that leadership may not be aware of.

There is value in “Speaking Last.” And, one way to get into speaking last and making your team feel involved, is by using something I call the Nominative Group Technique.

Speaking last is exactly what it sounds like, but it goes deeper than that. It is really about empowering those who work for you to create a “bottom-up” method of problem-solving, rather than the old-fashioned “top-down” style of leadership.

(This ties in with #3 of our The Big Six Leadership Principles®: “Trust and Empower.” You can read more about that here.)

Your team will be more active in problem-solving when they feel that have a stake in the solution.

The Nominative Group Technique is taking an existing challenge and giving it to team members ahead of a meeting, with the goal of creating a written proposal to solve the problem. These are then aggregated and anonymously presented at the meeting itself.

There’s now a whole set of potential solutions to a problem, each involving the input of team members. They can now be discussed as a group. In doing this, the team leader has allowed the team members to “speak first,” allowing for a more diverse set of ideas to enter the arena.

As a leader, resist the urge to dive in first. Be sure to involve your team. The whole organization will be better off for it.

This is part of my series of Two Minute Leadership video blogs. Feel free to watch and share:

Enjoy the journey!

based off material originally published 5/16/2017