The Dominance Problem

Another classic problem of most meetings is the dominance problem.  A few people intimidate others.  As a meeting organizer or leader how can you mitigate the negative effects these people can have on potential collaborations?

Sometimes a few loud individuals can dominate your meetings.  And that can lead to quiet people (e.g. introverts) not sharing their best ideas.  There are lots of ways to manage this psychological dynamic between the louder and quieter people in your meetings.  But one such technique is called the Nominal Group Technique (NGT), an alternative to traditional brainstorming.  NGT prevents the domination of discussion by a single person, encourages the more passive group members to participate, and results in a set of prioritized solutions or recommendations.

Let’s say your team is trying to make a decision, for example; imagine you’re trying to decide whether to bring your proposal to the CEO now or wait until after the Board meeting.  Now, this is a classic situation where a few louder voices could steamroll the rest of the group.

So, as the team leader, what you do is ask everyone to write down their opinion on a sheet of paper. Then you collect those papers and record the opinions on a white board or flip chart and vote. This forces team members who wouldn’t have otherwise spoken up to voice their opinions.  It also minimizes the effect of group members who would otherwise dominate the conversation.  And yet, everyone still has input, and you get all of the best possible ideas.

You, as team leader, can control each of the member’s voices.  You can control their input, the flow, and the tone of it.
Another benefit of the nominal group technique is that it reduces Groupthink because it encourages independent thinking – people don’t get swayed by listening to everyone else’s arguments.

An alternative to the manual recording method for Nominal Group Technique is to utilize a collaborative technology tool such as an audience response application like Turning Point or one of the many smartphone applications or a decision support application like Think Tank.

The Kingbridge Insight this week is to encourage you as a leader, whether of a group or an entire organization to continuously try new techniques for group engagement  – the results will speak for themselves.  Also, and perhaps more importantly, ask for help if you need it! Consult a professional management consultant or if you are in the Greater Toronto Area give us a call and we can connect you with one of our trusted advisers.  There are resources out there to help you reach your goals – tap into them!