Caucus Conversation for Teams

Welcome 👋

This is a 5-step process for diagnosing and discussing your meeting culture.

What’s meeting culture?

When we work in teams we build habits and practices around meetings. When to have them, how to run them, how to talk about them. Maybe your team is in meetings round the clock. Maybe you have set aside days of no meetings. Maybe you assign a facilitator. Maybe you play it fast and loose.

Regardless of how you meet, you have a meeting culture. In remote teams, it’s easier to develop a meeting culture on accident.

Accidental meeting culture is often based on the personalities and habits of the people in the conversation. Who likes to talk, how you like to process information, how you get excited and clear on what happens next.

Just because it builds up on accident, doesn’t mean you can’t develop it on purpose.

What does good meeting culture look like?

It supports maximum engagement, personal connection, and crystal clear alignment. In teams that have a strong meeting culture, you aren’t left wondering what some people think, and the time you spend together is meaningful and moves your work and relationships forward.

It’s collaboration, not performance. It’s high value, not a treadmill.

So how do we get there?

Here’s a good place to start. In 5 steps I’ll walk you through how to get things moving.

At the end of these steps, you’ll have started quality dialogue with your colleagues about building a meeting culture that develops trust, brings out the best in everyone, and saves you time by cutting out the meetings that are happening because of habit rather than impact.

Step 1

Understand yourself.

The Caucus Quiz provides some perspective on how you personally experience meetings with your team or collaborators. By getting a handle on how you feel, you will have a new vantage point to understand what might need changing.

Take the quiz, then move on to step 2.

Step 2

Reflect on your meeting culture.

  • What brings out the best in you?
  • What habits of colleagues bug you?
  • If change wasn’t a challenge, what would you like to see in your meeting culture?
  • Who on your team shares this vision?
  • When is the next organic opportunity you have to bring this up? (Retreat session, all-hands agenda, or other team focused time that isn’t rushed...)

Step 3

Lock it in and plan it.

  • Find a sponsor (a senior person interested and willing) and an ally (someone willing to roll up their sleeves with you).
  • Get the sponsor to commit the team time and advise you on how best to communicate what will happen.
  • Get the ally to work with you on a prep email that fits your team and asks two things
    • Get everyone to take the quiz
    • Ask everyone (in Slack, Loom, Email, whatever you and your ally decide) to reflect ahead of time: what they think their score means, and what aspects of meeting culture brings out the best in them

Step 4

Host the conversation.

  • Give people a chance to reflect on their scores. (It is optional whether you ask people to share them, though knowing people’s scores can crack open conversation.)
    • Were they surprised?
    • Did any of the questions get them thinking?
  • Start turning them towards reflecting on implications.
    • Are there meetings that you’ve been in that you want to talk about? Where folks weren’t able to participate fully, or where you felt dominant or disengaged?
    • Are there dynamics you see in our meetings that might undermine more equal participation?
  • Start moving toward shared commitments and baby steps.
    • What do we want our meetings to support?
    • In the next month what are 2-3 things where we can try to make improvements?
    • Is anyone interested in working on this together over the longer term?

This conversation might bring out some complex emotions. Some folks might feel defensive, others might feel inadequate. Some might question the value of these conversations, others might feel overwhelmed by how much needs to change. Make it clear that a caucus score is not permanent or a reflection of character. It is a tool to help you identify ways to shift your meeting culture with intention.

Step 5

Keep momentum going.

If you have a caucus score below 8, you are probably more invested in improving meeting culture than someone with a higher score who might recognise it’s an issue but isn’t as frustrated by it. Just because you care more doesn’t mean you should be on the hook for the change without proper support or proper credit.

  • Follow up with folks, thanking them for the session and sharing out next steps.
  • Either in that follow up or separately, decide how you want to be involved in this work and what you need to make it work for you. Talk to your sponsor about making that happen.
  • If you are really into this work and want to talk about it, join our monthly office hours and share your progress!