I wonder if you’ve found yourself in a situation like this?
Recently one of my former Appreciative Inquiry students called me to get some advice.
She was running an ideas generation meeting, using Appreciative Inquiry as a broad framework.
Her boss, who has supported her and let her get on with new initiatives, was invited to the meeting.
Early on, the boss said, “Well, I don’t really believe in this kind of thing.” And from that point, the energy went out of the meeting.
Another example: years ago, I was running an ‘internal branding’ and culture change workshop for a finance company.
We were taking the whole workforce through it in cohorts of twenty, and to demonstrate that the programme had support from the top, the HR department had got the CEO to record a brief video message to be played at the top of each workshop.
I guess it was a sign of my inexperience at that time that I hadn’t been involved in the scripting or recording of that video, or even viewed it prior to the first workshop I ran.
Can you imagine how my heart sank when I heard the CEO on video say, “… and if this programme is successful…”
‘IF’! Which, of course, implies that it might not be successful.
“WHEN this programme is successful” would have been a much more useful thing to say, demonstrating a belief that it will succeed.
What’s the moral? Leaders, at every level, consistently underestimate the effect they have on the morale of their teams and the emotional climate of their workplace.
If there’s any uncertainty, or anything new happens, people look to their leader for cues about how to react and what they can expect to happen.
So if you invite your boss, or a senior management figure, to a meeting or a workshop, you will increase your chances of a good outcome if you brief them on how to talk about the process to demonstrate support for it.
Ideally, give them a draft script of the kind of things to say that would demonstrate support – plus some ideas of things NOT to say if that’s how they normally talk.
Hopefully this will stop them from inadvertently messing up your meeting.
Of course, if you have the kind of boss who would deliberately screw up your meeting, , or the kind who just doesn’t care and attends the meeting but is checking Facebook or booking a holiday on their laptop throughout, that’s a different problem altogether.
Those kind of bosses don’t tend to hang on to their talent for very long.