You probably know those typical meeting situations: People arrive one by one, some don´t take their eyes of their laptops to write last-minute mails and at some point the meeting is opened and starts by jumping right to the first agenda point.
At the CLI we try and do it differently. Meetings – no matter how small – start with a check-in and end with a check-out. We are not big fans of airports, but we like to think of our meetings as little journeys. And to leave our “mental luggage” outside for the while. The check-in is a great tool to frame your meetings in a different atmosphere, get people into a conversation and focus on the topics to be discussed.
Checking-in means that every person attending the meeting or workshop says something about where he or she is in that exact moment, how they are feeling or anything else that is on their mind – even if it´s as elementary as a crave for chocolate.
There are many variations of the check-in, so it never gets boring. You can use it to tune people into a certain topic, for example by asking them to check-in with what their best experience in cross-sector collaboration was. Another variation is to cut it down to a one-word check-in to get the essence of what people feel like. At the end of the meeting we do a check-out, which is more or less the same thing, just as a round-up. You can use it to get some direct feedback or leave it as an open check-out.
Main principles of the check-in are:
- before using it the first time, introduce the concept to the group and explain the idea behind it
- every voice in the room should be listened to – even if it is only a small statement
- listen attentively and suspend judgment – what is said is not commented and there are no questions asked
In Stakeholder Dialogues we often deal with people that we might not know very well, maybe even feel resentments against. Therefore it is important to create an atmosphere of trust and humanity between the different stakeholders. This little ritual adds a personal note to every meeting – and you would be surprised how it not only boosts the quality but also the efficiency of your process.
Here you will find more ways to establish trusting relationships with your partners. Have you made similar experiences with other tools?