on meetings and teams and disagreeing

Why have a meeting when you can just send an email!

Amirite?!

I’m not a fan of meetings that regurgitate things that have already been communicated to everyone. I’m not a fan of meetings where everyone is “reminded” of a policy or a procedure when in reality one person needs to be spoken to regarding said policy or procedure. I’m not a fan of meetings where there are ideas! ideas! ideas! but no action plans or plans for action plans.

And yet, I’m learning to love a lot about our youth services staff meetings.

Once a week, full time staff-including hopefully at least one representative from our branch-get together for a meeting. Everyone is able to add to the agenda. Minutes are taken and part time staff has access to them. Sometimes, these meetings are 15 minutes long. Sometimes, we’re there for over an hour. Sometimes, it’s all procedural or planning or questions clarifying policy.

My favorite meetings are like last week’s when someone asked where we were with the possibility of having kids read off their fines. (Full disclosure: I didn’t remember talking about this, but I guess we did before summer started and it didn’t go anywhere.) There were a few minutes of do-we-need-board-approval-or-how-can-we-work-with-circulation and a few minutes of what-about-kids-whose-parents-use-their-cards-and-rack-up-fines and as we hashed out that kind of stuff I had an AHA moment and opened my big mouth.

“Wait a minute. We’ve been talking this year about not incentivizing reading. And our whole deal is supposed to be about encouraging kids to choose reading as a leisure activity. Wouldn’t a read off your fines program be in conflict with that philosophy?”

And then I really got going. And as I talked, I gained speed and more reasons why we shouldn’t do it. And how, if anything, we should work on putting together a proposal for no longer having fines on children’s items PERIOD because most kids are at the mercy of their caregivers to get them to the library and while reading off your fines might teach kids “responsibility” is that even remotely part of our job at the public library?

Not surprisingly, my coworker got a little frustrated with my barrage of NOs! And yet I was surprised when she said “Just forget about it! Forget I brought it up!”

I’m a talker. When I have a problem, I talk it out. When I have an idea, I talk it out. I talk to explain my universe. I talk to figure out how I feel about things. Sometimes I manage to talk myself all the way around an issue and find myself on the opposite side of where I started. I do sometimes, especially when I’m getting started or am really passionate about something, forget that the balance of effective communication is talking AND listening.

I’ve also been told I have a tone that is confident. I’m not going to apologize for that because I get sick and tired of women, in particular, apologizing for confidence. However, my confident “tone” is not intentional.

I did apologize for being so frustrating. And then we talked some more about how it’s important in meetings for everyone to feel comfortable expressing their opinions and how if we’re all going to sit around the table afraid of saying the “wrong” thing or offending someone or not pointing out inconsistencies, then what’s the point of having meetings.

Successful teams communicate. Successful team members do not take things personally when there is disagreement. Disagreement is healthy and a necessary part of growth.

And our team just keeps getting stronger.