Changing meetings when you're not in charge


Crane Stookey tells a simple story of how a workplace culture was changed. Not in a sweeping management programme, but by the small interventions from one participant.

"Alice worked in a company where her team had weekly all-team meetings. She told me they were hellish occasions, thick with territoriality and blame, a regular weekly gut-shot to morale, creativity and effectiveness. They were also male-dominated and hierarchical, with an entrenched and fearful leadership. Alice, in a new position at the bottom of the ladder, hardly said anything, and what she did say was dismissed."

Alice decided one day to simply place some flowers on a side table. A few people noticed, and business carried on as usual. She repeated this each week, eventually putting the flowers on the main table. Gradually, home made food was added, by others as well as Alice. The atmosphere of the meeting changed significantly. Sure, problems remained, but a real shift happened. Here's what Crane observes:

"Why did this work?

Because Alice didn’t hand out articles on being a team player, or propose made-up team-building activities. A frontal assault invites resistance. There was little to resist in Alice’s approach.

(Photo by Haydn Golden on Unsplash)