A Sequential Analysis of Procedural Meeting Communication: How Teams Facilitate Their Meetings

Authors: Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Allen, J.A., Kauffeld, S.

How do teams facilitate their own meetings? Unmanaged (or free) social interaction often leads to poor decision-making, unnecessary conformity, social loafing, and ineffective communication processes, practices, and products. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential benefits of procedural communication in team meetings. The role of procedural communication, defined as verbal behaviors that structure group discussion to facilitate goal accomplishment, was examined in 59 team meetings from 19 organizations. Meeting behaviors were videotaped and coded. Lag sequential analysis revealed that procedural meeting behaviors are sustained by supporting statements within the team interaction process. They promote proactive communication (e.g., who will do what and when) and significantly inhibit dysfunctional meeting behaviors (e.g., losing the train of thought, criticizing others, and complaining). These patterns were found both at lag1 and lag2. Furthermore, the more evenly distributed procedural meeting behaviors were across team members, the more team members were satisfied with their discussion processes and outcomes. For practice, these findings suggest that managers should encourage procedural communication to enhance meeting effectiveness, and team members should share the responsibility of procedurally facilitating their meetings.

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