Why your hospital leadership meeting may need silence

Leadership teams should embrace silence in meetings as a way to prevent groupthink and provide space for innovative ideas to arise, educators with the University of North Carolina Charlotte wrote for Harvard Business Review.

Talking meetings, while efficient at times, may lead to one person dominating conversation or perceived pressure to adhere to a superior's ideas, the authors said. As a result, some ideas stay hidden. Unshared knowledge can compromise meeting performance and have a negative effect on the quality of the ideas that are produced, according to Steven Rogelberg, PhD, and doctoral candidate Liana Kreamer. The authors cited multiple studies that found silent meetings sometimes produce better results than their talking counterparts.

"There are two explanations as to why the non-talking meeting condition resulted in greater quantity and higher quality solutions," the authors said. "For starters, the attendees in this group did not fear social humiliation or negative peer evaluation. As their ideas were written down as opposed to spoken out loud to the collective, they were able to brainstorm without the pressure of creating socially acceptable ideas. These positive effects are magnified when meeting attendees' do this anonymously."

The authors said silent meetings are best suited for agenda items that require brainstorming. They suggested a leader, like a hospital CEO, ask meeting attendees to remain quiet and write down their ideas in silence. Silent meetings can also use apps on phones and computers to share ideas.

"Current research supports the benefits of holding a 'silent meeting' as one way of better leveraging the ideas, perspectives, and insights of organizational talent,' the educators said. "Leaders should add it to their toolbox in order to select the right meeting style for the job at hand. At the very least, trying new approaches will serve to keep meetings fresh, engaging, and interesting."

Read more here.

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