Developing Performance AND Potential

Every meeting you have within your organisation has the potential to grow your people, their engagement, and their abilities through:

  • Inspiring people’s commitment and aspirations to seek to develop their potential to make a difference within the organisation
  • Providing people with insight and understanding into the logical framework by which the organisation functions
  • Modelling a logical and methodical process for making good decisions in a way that people can replicate for themselves
  • Building confidence in people for making practical, constructive, and (when required) creative contributions
  • Educating and familiarising people with a set of good influencing and communication behaviours
  • Stretching people into new challenges which are suited to their current stage of development.
Or alternatively, each meeting has the potential to:
  • Frustrate, build resentment and demotivate people
  • Create an impression of the organisation and the way it functions as a ‘black art’, only accessible through ex-perienced intuition
  • Obfuscate the decision making process, either as another impenetrable aspect of that ‘black art’, or as something that is the preserve of ‘seniors’, or as an irrational step of faith
  • Discourage contributions and all forms of creativity
  • Model political and/or autocratic means of achieving a particular outcome as the only viable way
  • Limit people’s development only to what they currently do or to official ‘training’.
Which of these potentials is realised by the meeting, and to what extent, is another very important aspect of the purpose of meetings and their design, but sadly it is rarely recognised as such.
The result of this oversight is that in some cases people take far longer to develop the potential that they have for taking ownership of aspects of the organisation’s performance, and in other cases they take control but by using approaches and behaviours that are not always helpful to the rest of the organisation.
The issue comes from how we think about situations that require a meeting. The common traditional approach is reflected in the diagram on the left. The organisation encounters an issue or an opportunity, and it brings people together in order to address the issue and either restore or grow performance. As illustrated by the picture, the people who are selected, and the way that they are utilised in the meeting, are naturally optimised to be those who will have the biggest impact on restoring performance in the shortest possible time.
But the diagram only reflects half the equation, because while the people are working on the problem, the problem is also working on the people. If those people are established and experienced in such problems, there is very little work for the problem to do, and those people are likely to emerge from the experience very little changed from how they went in (except maybe a little more tired and worn down).
On the other hand, if we think about such situations according to the diagram on the right, and we begin to appreciate the way in which problems can develop the experience and potential of our people, we realise that every people/ problem combination has two objectives: to improve the performance of the organisation for today, and to raise the potential of the organisation for further transforming performance tomorrow.
In reality, the selection of less experienced people to work on the problem is likely to result in a conclusion that does not achieve as much in performance terms as the engagement of a more experienced team, but it is important to bear in mind that we are simply talking about a ‘less experienced’ team, not an inept one, and what is being advocated here is a practical balance.
Careful selection of the members, consideration around how the less experienced members may be coached, and good design around the process they will follow (meeting design) may well result in a small deficiency and/or delay in performance, but its contribution to the potential for future performance is huge; not only in terms of competence and confidence, but also in terms of motivation and productive relationships.
Reflecting back on the bullet points at the start of this section, good meeting design and participant selection has the potential to do all of these things efficiently and effectively, in a way that can transform the performance of your next level managers. It can:
  • Model constructive ways to bring about change and motivate and enthuse people to engage with all such opportunities
  • Illustrate and explain the intrinsic workings of the business in a way that brings deeper understanding and respect
  • Educate people in effective and methodical practices for effectively fulfilling their responsibilities
  • Draw out people’s ideas and insights, and value them in a way which develops this insight and encourages them to contribute more…
  • …and to contribute in a way which also brings out the best in others
  • Place upon them temporary responsibilities (both in and out-side the meeting) which reinforces their learning in all of the above.
In other words, well-designed meetings are a way of teaching the ‘next generation’ of managers the true values of the organisation, and of equipping them to ensure those values are realised. And when we refer to ‘engaging more of the practical creativity and resourcefulness of our people’, we don’t simply mean a greater proportion of those qualities, we also mean a greater pool of those qualities.

Please subscribe to access clinic content

Subscription to the Inspirometer Information Service is free of charge and grants you instant access to a wealth of meeting effectiveness resources and guidance. It also provides you with regular updates direct to your mailbox at a frequency of your choosing.

I am happy to consent to the Inspirometer cookies and Terms and Conditions

Your use of the Inspirometer Information Service is subject to the following terms and conditions, and is subject to our privacy policy which can be reviewed here:

■ We will not use your information for any other purpose than to keep you informed of developments in meeting effectiveness and the Inspirometer system, and we will not share your information with others.
■ You are able to unsubscribe from this service at any time. Each email you receive from us will contain a link where you can reset your preferences for all future emails, or unsubscribe for the service entirely.
■ We will contact you on a minimum of a quarterly basis to ensure that our service is continuing to meet your needs, to give you a general update on key developments in our service, and to provide you with the option to change your contact preferences
■ We will hold your data on file to enable your access to the Information Service until such time as you unsubscribe from the service
■ If we hold your data outside of the information service as a result of you contacting us by email or purchasing our service, we will hold your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy ( We will delete such data, in situations where we are not legally required to retain it, on receipt of a verified request from you
■ All information provided by us is provided in good faith. All information submitted by you is to be provided in good faith.
■ In compliance with the GDPR 2018, you acknowledge that clicking the subscribe button grants us your consent to hold the data you have provided, and to contact you using that data, in the manner described above.
By clicking the button below, I agree with the Terms & Conditions.
Track your progress to ensure the efficacy of this strategy.