Meeting Dynamics

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1. Executive Summary
This report analyses meeting dynamics and suggests practices to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of corporate meetings. The findings are based on a sociogram produced by observing a simulated meeting. Conclusions are drawn using communications theories. Findings suggest meeting dynamics are largely influenced by group members’ individual characteristics and the management of the meeting. The turn taking method, leadership style and encouragement of member participation were all contributing factors to the outcome of the decision making task. Recommendations discussed include

1. A leader needs to outline the task, establish a turn taking method and model an effective decision making process. 2. Group members should encourage participation and explore other member’s contributions. The ramifications of these findings highlight the importance of a strong group leader and the responsibility of all members to create an environment that encourages member participation and constructive contribution.

2. Introduction
Meetings are an important aspect of successful businesses. Commonly used to clarify information and make decisions, meetings require effective group communication (Crossman, Bordia, & Mills, 2011). The dynamics of a group contribute to the productivity of a meeting (Van Auken, 1992). The aim of this report is to investigate the group dynamics of a simulated meeting. Using conclusions drawn from observing the simulated meeting, this report will also provide recommendations to improve the productivity of corporate meetings.

3. Methodology
Participants were commerce students studying MGMT240 at the University of Canterbury in 2012. Seven students were given a task question and asked to sit around a table and simulate a meeting. Data was collected by other MGMT240 students who observed the simulated meeting and recorded the number and direction of verbal exchanges during the ten minute exercise. The sociogram is attached (see appendix)

4. Observations
1. THE INITIAL EXCHANGES OF INFORMATION WERE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE GROUP. 2. As an information seeker a female group member (F2) opened the meeting by asking the group questions relevant to the task. She appeared to be the oldest member of the group and her seniority resulted in unopposed leadership. Throughout the developing conversation she assumed more of a director role and contributed less frequently, only to refocus the group when off topic. 3. A male (M4) seated at the head of the table used his prime position to contribute largely to the conversation. This member was an information giver as well as a supporter. Again he was one of the older members of the group. He often used nonverbal communication to support his interjections. When addressing the group he leaned forward or moved his hands from his face to the table. When he spoke to a specific member he maintained eye contact as he supported their contributions with facts or his own opinions, often opening with “yes and ...” From the head of the table he was the only member of the table who could clearly see every other member’s face. His feedback to his neighbours meant the bulk of the conversation is centred around him. 4. The majority of the communication occurred in the lower end of the table. This is possibly due to the higher concentration of members seated there. Furthermore M4, the supporter was seated at the head of the table. 5. A female Asian student F1 was seated at the high end of the table and made no verbal contributions. She was never asked for her opinion directly. She also was the only member of the meeting who was not seated by at least one other person of the same gender. Language may be a barrier. 6. The male (M1) at the high end of the table whose contributions were humorous and non-serious initially was a player. Later in the conversation he provided more...
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