A successful professional team knows the importance of good communication. When a team works together, they feel they can be open and share their ideas with each other. This allows for productivity and creativity. However, too much communication can negatively affect productivity. According to a CareerBuilder survey, several of the top 10 productivity killers at work has to do with too much communication or socializing.
If your meetings are constantly going off topic due to an overly chatty teammate, how can you handle the situation? Here are a few ways to use leadership qualities to do so.
Send everyone on the team a meeting outline. Make sure the meeting outline includes the items that will need to be discussed along with the length of the meeting. This is a great way to help your team prepare for the meeting and be aware of the time frame and a subtle way to address the issue without singling anyone out. At the start of the meeting, remind everyone that there is X number of items to discuss at the scheduled time. Try something like, “As shown in our meeting outline, we have three items that need to be discussed and only 30 minutes to do so today. Let’s do our best to work together and stay on track to find solutions to these items.”
Approach them privately in a friendly way. Think about something you can sincerely commend them for and let them know you appreciate their contributions to the team. Then address the issue of their chattiness. To do this, it is helpful if you keep a record of how long they actually spend talking in a meeting. They may feel they have only talked for a few minutes, but if you can show them a log that their 10-minute story accounts for one-third of the 30-minute meeting, it will have more of an impact. Remind them that chatting has its place, but you are concerned for the overall productivity of your team. Approaching the issue in a kind way and letting them know you are only trying to be helpful can lessen the blow that your teammate might feel.
Anticipate what may trigger your teammate’s chattiness. If this is a recurring problem with your teammate, analyze past meetings. Try to identify what triggers your teammate. For example:
- Does your teammate tend to talk too much before the meeting starts?
- Does your teammate get carried away when talking about their ideas?
- Does your teammate get caught up talking about a past experience?
Once you have identified the triggers, determine how you can keep your teammate’s chattiness at bay and stay in charge of the meeting. For example, if your meetings get derailed before they begin due to off-topic talking, try changing the format of your meetings. Try jumping straight into the meeting agenda and leave the general talk for last. Try saying something like, “I would like to try something different this meeting. I appreciate hearing about everyone’s weekend plans, but I’ve noticed that our meeting productivity is being affected. I would like to jump right into our meeting agenda today, and then if we have time left at the end, I would love to hear how your weekend was.” This serves as a reminder to everyone to stay on track while not singling out your overly chatty teammate.