Everyone who has ever served on a board can relate to this question. Unproductive, one person dominated, a key person was not at the meeting, we never got to the most important part of the agenda, sound familiar? Navigating through important content, diverse personalities and time restraints can prove to be difficult in any circumstance but when consensus, disagreements over interpretation of the goals of the organization and personalities collide it can become a disaster.
Conflict can cripple an organization if it gets out of hand. You may want to meet privately with each individual to listen to and explore their perception of the issues and their ideas on resolution. Be open-minded and consider that there may be different and better ways to accomplish your goals. Acknowledge that you are meeting with members in private so there are no concerns about “secret” meetings.
Managing the agenda by sending it out in advance and asking if there are items missing, topics that need to be tabled, additional time needed for discussion on certain topics can help you plan for success. Include the time allowed for each item on the agenda.
Manage the parties by accepting that everyone has an opinion and acknowledge that in the meeting. Remind everyone that should more time be necessary for discussion you may need to table the topic, assign a committee to explore the topic or schedule a one to one meeting.
What techniques have you used to create a good meeting? How have you circumvented dominating personalities? What help do you need when issues arise? What problems have you encountered?