| AWWA Career Zone -- Set ground rules to get more out of your meetings
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AWWA Career Zone -- Set ground rules to get more out of your meetings

By Laurie Dougherty

Career Zone #AWWAConnectionsIf you’re like me, you feel more comfortable speaking up in a meeting if you know the ground rules. These guidelines, or group agreements, are established by meeting participants to set clear expectations and hold each other accountable.
I suggest each different group develop meeting ground rules based on its make-up and purpose. By agreeing to these guidelines, members are more likely to follow through on their commitments and support each other.
Below are types of ground rules to consider:

  • Participation: These guidelines determine how a member is expected to contribute to the group. Do they need to attend every meeting? Should they communicate with one another in-between meetings? Does everyone need to bring a list of ideas? Should everyone report the outcome of meetings to their work teams?
  • Behavior: Behaviors to encourage in meetings could include being open to others’ ideas and seeking understanding by asking questions and actively listening. On the flip side, consider whether your group wants to exclude potentially distracting behaviors such as texting or checking phone messages and members holding side conversations.
  • Procedures: These establish how your group conducts business. Do you make decisions through consensus or a majority vote? Do you approve meeting notes to share outside of the group? Is there a time frame you are working within?

Without ground rules, members of a group may not share the same expectations and be disappointed if a meeting doesn’t go as they assume it should. If all members co-create and agree on your group’s ground rules, you will work better as a team and experience more clarity, purpose and participation.  
To learn more about leading productive and engaging meetings, check out the American Water Works Association’s four-part course leading to a certificate in Facilitation Foundations for Public Service Leaders.

Laurie Dougherty is a certified trainer and facilitator who served as executive director of AWWA’s Illinois Section for 28 years. She has an instructional design certificate from Rollins College in Florida. More career resources and job opportunities are available at AWWA’s Career Center and at Work for Water.